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UAL Research Online

The absent Presence of the Subject: an investigation of the place of the individual in the modem hospital through a photographic practice, which refers to German photographic discourses

Hock, Katja Kerstin (2005) The absent Presence of the Subject: an investigation of the place of the individual in the modem hospital through a photographic practice, which refers to German photographic discourses. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Hock, Katja Kerstin

This practice-based research sets out to answer the following questions within the context of the institutional site of the hospital:

How can a photographic practice be developed which is a reflection on the medium of photography while at the same time creating a place for the viewer to be drawn into the image at an imaginative level? How can a photographic practice further our understanding (firstly) of the ways in which we infer the presence of the subject in an image, and (secondly) the ways in which this sense of presence is manifest m photographs based on an objective elimination of the subject?

In my work I consider that space is itself being formed by people through their occupation of it. The key aim of this dissertation is to show how photography, in its representation of architectural space, frames and refers both to human presence and to transience.

My research interest lies in understanding and representing, through photographs of the hospital, the ways in which the patient's presence appears as marks and traces, literally upon the surfuce fabric of the hospital architecture. It is my contention that these marks and traces can represent aspects of subjective human experience within the hospital, and that these escape the dominant photographic discourses constituted through scientific methods.

In the first three chapters I outline the historical and photographic discourses I am working within and between. With the objective distance resulting in my move from Germany to the UK. it has become apparent that I work within a specifically European cultural and historical tradition of photography. I discuss the tradition and photographic discourses in relation to my own research interests and employ them as a starting point for my methodology. However, through the process of my practical research I demonstrate a critique of these discourses and specific photographic practices. In relation to my own practice the particular photographers I have selected to analyse and critique are: August Sander, Karl Blossfeldt and Bernd and Hilla Becher.

The fourth chapter demonstrates the development of my own work in relation to the above photographic practices. I demonstrate how, by analysing the practices and methodologies discussed in the first three chapters, my own practice alludes to human experiences that are not present in discourses of photography based on classification and positivism. Chapter five provides an analysis of the contemporary photographic practice of the German artist Thomas Demand; the analysis results in a clearer awareness of the significance of the indexical nature of my own practice.

A selection of photographs I consider to be the principal outcome of this research were shown as a solo exhibition in the Lethaby Gallery at Central Saint Martins in July 2005. The exlubition was titled Hospital and consisted of a series of eight 120 x 180cm and eleven 80 x 60cm colour prints. With hindsight it has become apparent that the show should not only be considered the final outcome, but is an important component of the developed photographic methodology.

In order to gain permission to photograph inside the hospital, I had to agree in writing not to reveal in any way the identity of the staff, the patients, or the hospitals. The identity of the surgeons interviewed in the context of this research project had also to be withheld.

Additional Information (Publicly available):

This thesis is restricted. Please contact UAL Research Online for more information.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Central Saint Martins
Date: October 2005
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2020 14:11
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2024 15:55
Item ID: 15564
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/15564

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