Slippage: Reclaiming personal family history through contemporary photomedia

Gibson, Celise (2014) Slippage: Reclaiming personal family history through contemporary photomedia. In Garnons-Williams, Victoria (Ed.) Photography and Fiction: Locating Dynamics of Practice, Queensland Centre for Photography, Brisbane, QLD, pp. 75-78.

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This paper addresses the role of photography as a documentary medium and how this forms a basis for my practice-led studio investigations. In it, I will explore how photography is used to create histories and sustain specific notions of ‘legacy’ within the context of the family photo album.

Family history is often based on stories to which the photo album provides a visual point of reference. Despite the ostensible ‘objectivity’ of the family photograph though it is nonetheless as subjective as the stories that surround it. In this way, the photo album perpetuates a hegemony of truth that obscures the fragmentary and highly selective nature of these documents and stories.

The result is that every photo album implicitly documents the gaps or voids present in understandings of our own histories. Homi Bhabha refers to these kinds of voids as ‘disjunctive historical spaces’ – spaces of slippage that create the opportunity for new narratives and understandings to occur.

Using Bhabha’s ideas as a chief point of reference, I will explore how these voids or gaps in information – and the opportunities for re-examination that they open up - can be explored through contemporary photomedia. Digital technologies such as camera phones and scanners generate a space in which photography’s own documentary conventions can be turned in on themselves to create a subterfuge. My current studio-based research involves using the scanner to navigate through my family’s sometimes-‘occulted’ history, in order to explore, document and recover my connection to this narrative. I am primarily interested in the scanner as a tool for capturing not simply surfaces, but objects, moments or movements in time. Objects or moments captured by the scanner can often be simultaneously distorted and consolidated, blurred and sharpened. This paper will propose that this ‘slippage’, literally expressed in the disruption of the pixelated field, can be used to create a space in which alternative readings or understandings of past events can be explored and new narratives produced.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 83030
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Practice-led research, Contemporary photography, Indigenous history, Identity, Place
ISSN: 9780992322533
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > VISUAL ARTS AND CRAFTS (190500) > Lens-based Practice (190503)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Schools > School of Media, Entertainment & Creative Arts
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Celise Gibson
Deposited On: 01 Apr 2015 02:44
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2015 23:05

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