“Photography is a monster with two subjects, with a double body (human) and a single, cavernous head whose one eye blinks on and off.” (Nancy, “Nous Autres”)
“The commercial character of culture causes the difference between culture and practical life to disappear.” (Adorno, “The Schema of Mass Culture”)
Broadly, my research practice follows two primary strands: the first, an inquiry into the being of the photographic object, an attempt to apprehend the photograph at its moments of essentiality, in its nakedness; the second, the uses of the photograph within the contemporary context of late capitalist image-culture, positive and negative, as propaganda, and its potentiality for disruption.
This ‘being’ of photography has always caused me anxiety; I have never felt as though I have been able to grip onto what defines it as an object, and further, particularly troubled by the human subject. Who/what is the face within the object? A signature, a trace, a copy or replica, or something else – a produced ‘new’ subject, so to speak? Here, my research follows an attempt to apprehend, or navigate, the complex matrices of the photograph’s coming into being and subsequent being, the role of the photographer as creator or enabler, and the character of the object, utterly dissimilar from painting, sculpture, or literature.
The second trend of my research – the image-context – arises from a need to justify and understand the contemporary necessity of image-making as an artistic practice. Via social media (and wider capitalist visual culture), the photograph today exists as a kind of ‘democratized propaganda’. This visual culture envelops bare life in the “poetic mystery of the product” (Adorno) and vice versa, positivising all aspects of life, and (via the digital) transforming the citizen into an entrepreneur-consumer: an ouroboros of capitalist consumption. The role played by the extreme density of images are of critical interest to my research, and further, how photographs can be used to disrupt this process, revitalising notions of the Other, melancholy, and other varied antitheses to capitalist visual culture.
These two trends coalesce in a general desire to investigate and posit a new existence for photography in contemporary life, to resist the banal mass of image culture, and to breathe vitality into the photographic object as a necessary tool of art and disruption.