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What lies beyond the surface?

Thesis 2020


Photography has always been considered to be a representational device. It’s

therefore that our interpretation of the meaning of a photograph is primarily

informed by what and how something is depicted within the image.

Photography’s truthfulness, it’s reproducibility and it’s transparent character

among the primary explanations as to why the image overpowers the value of

the object.

However, there has been a sharp increase in attention for the materiality of

photographs, especially when considered in relation to the meaning and

significance of the image. The surface of the photograph started to play an

important role in contemporary photography.

The shift within the attention towards materiality is very much connected to the

abstract-expressionism movement back in the 40’s, where artists were

completely free to experiment with the material characteristics of their tools. For

them, the end result was not important, it was the maker’s intuition that defined

the work. You can say that the conceptual conclusions are drawn within the

working method. Makers like Claudia Hausfeld and Aliki Braine work this way.

They draw their conceptual conclusions through experimentation with the

surface of the photograph.

Within this, the surface is multiple and varied. Photography has an identity that

can change and fit to a certain utility. Therefore, we can argue that photography

is in a constant state of flux that continuously shifts in shape and form, assuming

different roles and characters.

The surface exists out of 4 states, the raw surface, representational state, the

material state and the carrier. Which qualities of the surface contribute to the

integration of the image depends on the makers intentions. The differences

between how conclusions are drawn within the working method, mainly

focussing on the role of interference within the photographic material, and how

materiality can serve as a gesture to illustrate the pre thought concept requires

different working methods. Every intervention with a surface creates a new

answer to the question ‘what lies beyond...?’, but being able to answer this

question allows a maker to remain aware of their decisions throughout the


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