Exacting photography: self-imaging and its frustration in contemporary art photography

Burbridge, Benedict (2010) Exacting photography: self-imaging and its frustration in contemporary art photography. Rebus (5).

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Abstract

This article examines the use of physically and psychologically exacting conditions to frustrate efforts at self-presentation in a number of contemporary photographic portraits. I argue that, through these strategies of distraction, recent artists have worked against the conventions traditionally defining the portrait as a genre, bringing their work closer to the experimental techniques encountered in early scientific photography, particularly the work of Duchenne de Boulogne and Jean-Martin Charcot. It is my contention that such links are far from incidental, and I identify a shared distrust of the subject as an uncontrolled performative presence as the key factor informing the manufacture of the exacting environments in both contemporary art and nineteenth-century science. I conclude that the recent work recommends a shifted role for the portrait within art photography, responding to post-modern theorizations of subjectivity and the conscious acts of self-fashioning endorsed by late capitalist consumer culture: its authority no longer determined by the artful consolidation of a projected self-image, but in photographing aspects of behaviour that lie beyond the subject‘s conscious control.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Art History
Subjects: T Technology > TR Photography > TR0624 Applied photography Including artistic, commercial, medical photography, photocopying processes
Depositing User: Benedict Burbridge
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2013 14:36
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2013 14:36
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/44201
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