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UAL Research Online

Out of Sight: Exploring Desire, Visuality and the Obscene through Photographic Practice

Bibiano Alves, Fagner (2021) Out of Sight: Exploring Desire, Visuality and the Obscene through Photographic Practice. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Bibiano Alves, Fagner

This practice-based research explores how photographic representation mobilises desire through the gaze. Informed by the work of Jacques Lacan (2006), the research investigates what it might mean ‘to come out’ through photographic practice, considering aspects of secrecy as activators of desire in looking.

The research begins by exploring the notion of the obscene according to the Greek etymology of the term ob skene (of-stage), when violent parts of Greek plays were acted, not in front of the audience, but out of sight (Mey, 2007). In light of this concept, the practice-based research was conducted in places in London where anonymous encounters take place out of sight of ‘the public’, such as sex shops, newsagents, gay bathhouses, sex clubs and a public toilet. The resulting body of photographic work ofers a fresh perspective upon art photography; an original contribution to the representation of gay male desire.

The methodology is informed by the work of Michel Foucault (1977; 1978; 2003), whose theoretical framework considers the construction of visuality in the context of architectural and social spaces (hospitals, schools, asylums and prisons); spaces that condition how we look and determine what can be seen through relations of power (Rajchman, 1988).

I claim that photographic representation constitutes a site for the suspension of the revelation of what is represented; a necessary suspension of classifcation and intelligibility. As long as I desire, there will always be a ‘yet not known’, a perpetual space of-frame, of-site, out of sight, that irremediably throws me into the feld of visuality, making me want to see and look again.

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Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: desire, gaze, photography, power, obscene, of-frame, secrecy, visuality
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Central Saint Martins
Date: January 2021
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2021 16:17
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2021 16:17
Item ID: 17458
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/17458

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