University of Tasmania
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Strategies of likeness : M.F.A. University of Tasmania, 1988-89

posted on 2023-05-27, 07:47 authored by Barratt, Phillip J
Contained within this volume are Papers One and Two. Both use as a central structure a quotation from Roland Barthes' book Camera Lucida - Reflections on Photography. The portrait-photograph is a closed field of forces. Four image repertoires intersect here, oppose and distort each other. In front of the lens, I am at the same time: the one I think I am the one I want others to think I am the one the photographer thinks I am and the one he makes use of to exhibit his art.' What the quotation really identifies, is the nature and the deduction of human behaviour that is a determining factor in any portrait process, whether it is photographic, painted or filmic. Paper One, therefore establishes the process where, as a witness to someone's behaviour, we arrive at a deduction that assesses who and what they are - their personality. By appropriating Barthes' quotation, four major areas are investigated: 1) the 'self' we think we are 2) the 'self' we present to others 3) the 'self' interpreted by others (society) 4) the 'self' that is physiognomically determined. By expanding the concerns of Paper One, the second paper examines photographic portraiture and those artists who continue to believe they can reveal the soul - the personality of the sitter. On applying for the Master of Fine Arts Degree, my photographic work had concentrated on those people who suffered from either physical, mental or social handicaps. Of particular importance was a continuing study of degree work with the Royal Derwent Mental Hospital. However, the Higher Degrees Committee was not prepared to support this proposal for reasons of the legal liability it felt might come, as a result of this investigation. Therefore, I sought to re-evaluate the MFA Proposal that would investigate the more general principles of photographic portraiture. Throughout the MFA Degree, considerable time has been devoted to the technical refinement of my photographic practice. This was of considerable importance in the first year of the course, that lead to a greater familiarisation with the zone system, extensive correspondence with Kodak and Ilford and learning something of the techniques of hand colouring. Studio work, about which I knew nothing, was investigated late in this year and became the predominant way of working for the remainder of the course. Whilst a number of subject areas were investigated in this first year ranging from panorama portraits of single women, to the portraits of those who live in the country town of Tunbridge; it was in November of that year that l approached the Church of England. I approached the clergy in an effort to investigate the strategies of show, where there exists an explicit dualism of roles - the man who is at the same time within the institution of the church and the individual outside the church. The concept of the split personality supported by appropriate props is immensely intriguing and at the same time socially poignant, as it begins to question the nature of perception and the strategies of surface. An additional concern of the work was the continuing investigation of photographic portraiture as the photograph becomes a further diversive element in the strategy of surface. Roland Barthes in Camera Lucida identifies it in this way. In front of the camera as subject: I am at the same time the one I think I am, the one I want others to think I am, the one the photographers think I am and the one he, the photographer makes use of as his art. With these thoughts in mind and having gone to considerable effort to organize the clergy who were in support of this project, I was offered a commission for the Legal Practices Building, Hunter Street. I saw there were a number of explicit similarities between the Church and the law fraternity. Both speak of power, wealth or implied wealth, both are institutions that are predominantly conservative in their views and on a more fundamental level, are predominantly concerned with the strategies of the facade - that range from buildings, to ceremonies and the archaic traditions of costume. I therefore appropriated the concerns I had for the clergy for this new opportunity.


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Copyright 1989 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1991. Includes bibliographical references

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