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Aura and Trace: The Hauntology of the Rephotographic Image

Schofield, Michael Peter (2018) Aura and Trace: The Hauntology of the Rephotographic Image. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

[img] Text (Aura and Trace - written thesis)
Schofield_MP_Media_PhD_2018.pdf - Final eThesis - complete (pdf)
Restricted until 1 March 2021.

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[img] Archive (A Window on Time - final photographic practice)
A Window on Time (eBook).pdf - Examined Content
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This research utilises and deconstructs the contemporary practice of rephotography, investigating what it can tell us about the changing ontology of the photographic artefact, in a purportedly post-medium and post-digital culture. The work uses scanned archival images, some of which have been badly damaged over time, alongside bespoke photography of the lost urban landscapes they depict, to create new digital media artworks which explore the representation of absence and the passage of time itself. These processes and their outcomes raise important questions about mediation in our digital representations of the past, about demolition and loss of cultural memory, and, most crucially for this research, they interrogate theory regarding the ontology of photography in the archive - specifically the Derridean notion that the photograph is intrinsically spectral, and that the archive is always under some form of erasure. For Derrida all media was best understood as a form of technological ghost, continually re-haunting itself as media and practices change, but traces of the past return in new forms. This spectrality was always present but was seemingly accelerated by the digital turn, even as older analogue images 'felt' more auratic and haunting. In order to understand the photographic object in these shifting contexts, a 'hauntology', rather than an ontology, will be employed, to recognise what underlies these spectral media fragments – their absence/presence, their materiality/immateriality, how they are used in modern visual culture, their potential social meaning and political significance, as a form of haunting. The practice research used two photographic archives of the same city, from the same time period (c.1900), and compared them through various deconstructions of the rephotographic form, examining closely the role played by their artefactual materiality, content and context (within both analogue and digital realms), looking for various signifiers of hauntological quality. The focus of these observations became the aura of the decaying medium, and the role this unique materiality plays in revealing the authenticity, age, absence and ultimately the spectrality of the trace. This then shifted to a wider consideration of how these 'analogue' surface features can become fetishized and simulated within various hauntological practices based on the digital archive, at a time of ongoing analogue revival and returning notions of medium in the arts. Alongside this written thesis the practice produced two other major research outputs: a photo book entitled A Window on Time, and a site-specific installation piece called The Remote Viewer.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Related URLs:
Additional Information: Michael Peter Schofield works and publishes as an artist under the name Michael C Coldwell
Keywords: Photography, Hauntology, Deconstruction, Rephotography, Ontology, Practice-Led, Media Art, Archive Research, Special Collections, Digital Media, Urbanism, Landscape, Time, Analogue Media, History
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Media and Communication (Leeds)
Depositing User: Mr Michael Peter Schofield
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2019 10:25
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2019 10:25
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22615

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