CASS Professorial Lecture: Evidence, absence and the beautiful failures of photography
While photographs can be documents of reality as images translated from the world, they also carry ideas beyond their face value. The tension between photography’s evidentiary representation and its imaginative aptitude to prise open understanding for the viewer is a fine line. Discussing current research interests I consider photography’s capacity to raise subject matter that lies outside the image, and how making and writing about images can galvanise thinking.
One research interest addresses global warming’s influence on the Australian alpine environment, which I’ve continued to photograph during long and short winters over many years. I will survey various photographic series on climate change, place and visibility, drawing attention to the aesthetics of affect, erasure and absence. I will discuss Celestial Spaces my exhibition on the nineteenth century Chinese miners of Kiandra also focused on erasure and gaps in recognition.
Acknowledging photography’s limitations is to understand it may not always hold answers. However photography is brilliant at posing questions.
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