Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Arts and Humanities

First Advisor

Lelia Green

Second Advisor

Tania Visosevic


A photographic and written examination of paradox in relation to the photograph

This research aims to illuminate the relationship between paradox and photography, elaborated via Julia Kristeva’s notion of the abject. Paradox is considered in relation to photography in terms of repeated and unresolved debates about the status of the photograph as either an ‘index of reality’ (Bate, 2004, p. 1) or as a sign. The significance of this research lies in its re-motivation of abjection in terms of paradox, not in order to resolve such debates but, rather, to illuminate the importance of such unresolved contradictions in terms of photography’s often powerful affect and meaning. Situated within the paradigm of qualitative research, the research employs the theoretical perspective of post-structuralist psychoanalysis, combined with the methodology of critical analysis, as an approach appropriate to illuminating latencies within representation. Photographs by Jeff Wall, Pat Brassington, Patricia Piccinini, Roger Ballen, and Bill Henson, are critically analysed as informationrich case studies of the use of photographic paradox. The creative component of the research is presented in the form of a web site consisting of photographs and animations of photographs, that collide aesthetic constructions of the body as an objective, external, object of an other’s vision with a more sensory, and personal, experience of the body as the site of inner subjectivity. As such, the camera lens functions as a metaphor for each of these constructions, while body parts and fluids vie with objects of memory and optical imaging, repeating and transforming existing objects into new aesthetic forms. As with the case studies of photographic paradox, this photographic project makes explicit the workings of paradox, revealing repeated and unresolved contradictions that serve to create contemplative and often powerfully affective experiences of viewing.

Included in

Photography Commons