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UAL Research Online

An Unfolding Voyage: Rephotography and the Challenger Expedition

McLeod, Gary (2016) An Unfolding Voyage: Rephotography and the Challenger Expedition. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: McLeod, Gary

Setting sail from Portsmouth in 1872, the British scientific research vessel HMS Challenger undertook a three-and-a-half-year voyage to further scientific understanding of the world’s oceans. In addition to surveying responsibilities, the expedition and its crew were charged with obtaining “photographs of native races to one scale” (Royal Society, 1872) but the 500 plus images remain largely unseen by a wider public. This practice-led PhD adopts rephotography, a method of taking a photograph from the same vantage point as an existing photographic image, and expands it using participation as a means to reconsider the expedition’s photographs collectively.

Centering this research on locations once photographed during the Challenger expedition, the study engaged with contemporary residents. Firstly, an internet-based social network site “SNS Challenger” (2009–2013) was iteratively designed to remotely facilitate participants’ rephotographic experiences. In reporting activity within Gibraltar, Bermuda, the Philippines, and South Africa, a range of rephotographic methods was described for collectively exploring historical, technological, cultural and personal relationships with locations over time. Following a reconsideration of the expedition’s photographs as implied collective efforts, two rephotography samples were then conducted in situ with participants in Japan (2014 and 2015). Through collectively documenting a shared rephotographic experience, participation deepened dialogue with the rephotographic process and creative engagement with local surroundings.

Carried out within a framework comprising rephotography as a means of discovery (Klett, Solnit and Wolfe, 2005), participants as creative consumers (Bauman, 2008), familiarity as an aesthetic criterion (Flusser, 2002), and knowledge as constructed within a cyclical process of accumulation (Latour, 1988), the study evidenced a methodological shift in the researcher’s photographic practice: from a single perspective with the implied contributions of others to shared perspectives with others’ contributions made explicit. That shift is manifested through the creation of workshops, exhibitions and a set of folded prints including visual material of Japan accumulated between 1875 and 2015. The research is presented as a thesis that describes the journey undertaken and subsequent concerns raised by issues concerning participation within contemporary photography regarding authorship, openendedness and communication of information.

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Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Communication
Date: January 2016
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2020 10:49
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2024 15:54
Item ID: 15551
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/15551

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