Photography's material medium
AffiliationVCA & MCM Collected Works
School of Art
Document TypeMasters Research thesis
Access StatusThis item is currently not available from this repository
© 2014 Justine Khamara
Photography’s Material Medium explores the way technological developments in image production can extend the potential for photography to open up as a material and a medium. In the studio-based component of this project, generative processes were developed in order to explore and exploit particular material and plastic properties of current photographic production methods. Industrial and by-hand processes of cutting and slicing were applied to portrait photographs that had been printed onto various surfaces. These cut-up images were then reconfigured in a variety of ways, including montages and fully threedimensional sculptures. In the final body of work created during the two years of this research project, photographic aspects intersect with the more material concerns of texture, form and structure. The human figure is a constant presence oscillating between almost complete realization and total annihilation. Faces scatter into pieces and then regroup, becoming fully threedimensional objects; objects that can balance themselves on geometric shapes—ideal forms—or simply stand on the floor. This work endeavours to expand the discursive and material capacities of photography through an engagement with the physical properties of printed photographs. The written dissertation locates my practice within a wider field of artistic discourse and outlines the technological and cultural shifts that have enabled photographs to become newly ‘visible’ to artists as a material medium. I examine some of the ways contemporary artists use photographic material in a fully dimensional manner, creating works that present a revitalized, reconfigured form of photographic practice, whereby a material engagement with photography can speak to both the particulars of our contemporary situation, as well as to the broader concerns that compel artists to make work. The phenomenon of artists working with photographs in a dimensional manner is not unique to our present time. Artistic practices incorporating multidisciplinary approaches to generating work emerged during the 60s and 70s. This led a number of artists to begin to work with photographic material in ways that sat outside of the usual photographic conventions of their time. I discuss a number of works from this period with a view to tracing historical precedents for a contemporary engagement with photographic materiality and demonstrate how my work extends on these historical precedents.
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