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Declining Images: Photographic Visibility, Spectatorship and the Apparatus

Cassar, Ignaz (2009) Declining Images: Photographic Visibility, Spectatorship and the Apparatus. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

The thesis provides a critical framework for addressing a range of modalities of visibility within the field of photography. Such modalities are explored under the rubric of three key terms: latency, inversion and sublation. Each of these terms is deployed as a means of attending to three photographic spaces: the latent image; the photographic negative; the archived photograph. The drive of the thesis moves towards a consideration of a plurality of photographic forms, among them forms that have hitherto remained marginal within representational economies that invest in definitive images. Declining Images renders the photograph in its latent state as a ground for understanding the constitution of the photographer’s subjectivity in relation to libidinal attachments to the image. The photographic negative acts as a means of disinvesting critical attention away from authorized images and returning instead to the processual work that sustains image-production. Alongside this, the archived image offsets its potential for visibility through an emphasis on its assignment to sequestered space. The photographic forms outlined above, conventionally seen as tangential to the circulation of images, proffer an occasion for a series of theorizations. The discussion of latency compares the elaboration of the term within Freudian psychoanalytic theory to the conceptual reception of latent images in the field of photography. The debate around inversion addresses the refusal of the photographic negative to deliver meaning in favour of the inconclusive and the non-normative. The arguments around sublation address archivization, foregrounding the implications that Hegelian thought might have for the role of the photograph in the archive. The work of the thesis draws one back to the constitution of the photographic act in phenomena that have been systematically occluded in the theories and histories of art and photography: the latent, the negative and the archived. Such phenomena are integral to the exploration of the epistemological entwinements of photography and visibility.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.509037
Depositing User: Dr Ignaz Cassar
Date Deposited: 12 May 2014 10:24
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2014 10:43
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5783

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