The estimable Belinda Hungerford is doing a fabulous job researching and organising the archives of the Australian Centre for Photography. Her research led me to find, in the back of a cupboard, copies of a small booklet I produced with my students in 1990 (!). It was to accompany a show we put on at the ACP. Some students from back then are still doing important work in the field, I’m gratified to note. Reading through the anecdotes we collected back then it’s interesting that in that pre-digital period the minilab, now a lost site of visual profligacy and collective concatenation, served a not-dissimilar lubricious function to the ‘on-line’ environment now. If you want a copy of our booklet I’ll be glad to send you one, the price hasn’t changed in 25 years.
Tag Archives: 1990s Australian Photography
Reusing historic photographs in contemporary Australian photography
‘Reusing Historic Photographs in Contemporary Australian Photography’, The Power to Move, exhibition forum, Queensland Art Gallery, February, 1996
One of the most famous and evocative images from photography’s history is Nadar’s photograph of neatly stacked bones and skulls in the Paris catacombs. It might seem a strange image with which to begin a talk on contemporary Australian photography, but I’ve had this photograph in my mind recently as a kind of visual metaphor for the present state of photography. Taken a few decades after photography’s invention, the image is still compelling because it comes from photography’s prelapsarian period—when the medium seemed new born amidst an Edenic profusion of fresh new things to see, and photographers relished the innocent discovery and capture all the wonders of the visible. (Nadar was able to photograph underground for the first time because of his daring use of portable electric lights and posed mannequins.) But for me this image has now come to represent the medium’s state at the end of its history, when the huge subterranean presence of the subsequently accumulated Total Photographic Archive seems to be defining photography’s current lugubriously retrospective mood.
Certainly this ‘presence of our past’ within photography is well established in Australian visual culture. Examples are numerous. For instance there is the deliberate reuse, parodic or otherwise, of well known classics of Australian photography, such as Max Dupain’s Sunbaker. And his Meat Queue has recently been computer collaged to advertise jeans in a fashion magazine. There is the creation of non-specific, but nonetheless precisley authentic photographic atmospheres from the past, produced for numerous fashion, real estate, or breakfast cereal ads. And photographs are now regularly used in Australia when the highest spiritual values of the nation need to be ritually embodied, as in the Vietnam War Memorial, the 1995 Australia Remembers Celebrations, and the Winfield Cup.
These tactics for evoking the past which occur in our broad visual culture are reflected in miniature in the visual strategies of that small part of it called art photography. Over the past fifteen years or so many Australian photographers have reused historic photographs in their work. This reuse ranges from cheeky quotational parodies to historical excavations at the implacable centre of the image. I also include in this tendency the recreation of past visual styles to give an authentic mnemonic charge to contemporary image making.
For example Anne Zahalka’s appropriational work from the mid to late 1980s takes a straight Postmodern pastiche approach, where the authority of the original is deliberately deflated in order to be inserted into a semiotic process of citation and comment. When we look at her works we apply them in our minds back to the originals. They are glosses on the received visual texts of the past—gently critiquing their patriarchal or ethnocentric assumptions, or through humorous juxtaposition asking us if these well worn Australian classics might not need to be updated in the light of subsequent history.
I want to characterise this as a ‘reading’ process, where through either a process of cut and paste collage, or recreated dress-up tableaus, images are metonymically and metaphorically juxtaposed in order to be compared and judged by a complicit and knowing audience.
The 1979 collages of Peter Lyssiotis, Industrial Woman, also require a similar ‘reading’ process of visual semiotics. While Zahalka targets particular famous images or easily recognised periods and genres, the images Lyssiotis collages tend to be anonymous—drawn, I would guess, from the thousands of photographs produced every month for annual reports, publicity brochures, magazines and so forth. Only occasionally, and perhaps accidentally, are the images recognisable. Both artists, however, rely on a pre-existent photographic archive: in Zahalka’s case the valorised museum collection, and in Lyssiotis’s case a kind of virtual archive of ubiquitous mass imagery. The images Lyssiotis uses are not nagged into a state of autocritique, as in Zahalka’s work; instead, through the collaged juxtaposition, and through our prior knowledge of the conventional political blandishments which the image fragments would have originally signified, we read a critique of the current state of Australian politics. The nefarious nature of photographs is assumed, and through semiotic reconfiguration the true state of things which they once masked is revealed.
For my purposes I would like to characterise both these processes of reading as ‘horizontal’, because the viewer makes meaning by scanning across the photograph’s content—the past is cited, removed from its original context, and inserted into a new visual text.
In contrast we have another set of images, mainly from the later 1980s and into the 1990s, which I think have a stronger ‘vertical’ axis. By which I mean that we seem to look down into the depths of the image. Leah King-Smith, for instance, also went to the archive to find images, not to chastise them for their political errors, but to liberate them. There is a painful and inconsolable paradox at the heart of her project. Thousands of photographs were taken of Aboriginal people during the nineteenth century—putatively in the name of positivist anthropological taxonomy, but also as part of a process of colonisation, displacement and genocide. As a Koori artist in residence at the State Library of Victoria King-Smith rephotographed some of these images, thereby removing the Aborigines from their scientific classifications, and then montaged them over fish-eye shots of the land they once inhabited. They return as frozen ghosts to haunt a land which has irrevocably changed beneath them. So, even though the prison wall of the archive may have been burst assunder, there has been no real liberation, all that is found are ephemeral spectres. Although the Aborigines in the photographs still have strong individual facial expressions, evidence of a former personality (and perhaps of silent resistance to the camera), in King-Smith’s work they remain doomed. They look up at us through the depths of history, silent and drowned. The only function of these images is mourning. There is nothing to be read, nothing to be said.
The superimposition, hand colouring and fish eye effects give a sense of spatial depth to the images—a vertical dimension back into the ineffable depths of time, history and photography, which in this work all collapse into one another.
Although not as deeply pitched as Leah King-Smith, Jeff Gibson’s Skin Deep, Amoré and Delusions of Grandeur series have a similar elegiac mood. Gibson found and rephotgraphed images of 1950s matinee idol pin-ups, which were once the Platonic models of the ideal form of masculine beauty and the objects of socially sanctioned female sexual desire. He shows them as subject to the corrosive forces of time. But this temporal corrosion has not romantically patinated them: because their potency was always only skin deep anyway, it has eaten away at their essence. Gibson’s elegy for a redundant masculine ideal is suffused with irony: the original images were produced for the female spectatorial gaze, and within the libidinal visual economy of the 1950s the requisite thick make-up, glamour lighting and passive poses entailed a kind of ‘feminisation’ of the male. They were therefore always problematic within Australian masculinity. Gibson’s own relationship to them as a man from at least one generation later is doublely problematic: they loom too large in the visual archive of masculinity for him to simply dismiss them as his gender’s kitsch, but neither are they really viable (except in a suffocatingly nostalgic way) as a historical referent for contemporary men. But that irony aside, his faces have a similar mutely morbid quality to Leah King-Smith, and Gibson similarly uses a process of montaged superimposition which gives a vertical depth to the image.
If the semiotic metonymy and metaphor of collage describes the citational uses of historic photographs in the work of artists like Anne Zahalka or Peter Lyssiotis, perhaps a suitable metaphor for the reuse of archival photographs with all their mnemonic powers intact, which occurs in the work of Leah King-Smith or Jeff Gibson, may be stratigraphy—the archaeological examination of layers of rock. The crucial difference is that the photographs reused by the latter artists remain embedded in history and memory, they are not levered out to be processed, reordered and redeployed in the present.
All of these photographers recognise that photgraphy is generating a new ‘power to move’. The most powerful quality of the medium has always been its notorious verisimiltude—its intoxicating intimacy with fragments of the real and with particular moments of time. But now, after one hundred and fifty years of the accumulation of these billions of isolated physical and temporal fragments, photography is producing an intoxicating intimacy with communal history and popular memory. Roland Barthes, in the book Camera Lucida, described the essence of photography as an equisite, individual moment of personal remembrance, such as he experienced when he held in his hand a snapshot of his dead mother taken of her as a child. Those individuated moments have become collectivised. The private spaces of photographs have joined together through communal use to become shared, almost public spaces. The pricks and pangs of the photographic image have almost become environmental.
This communal power is exploited by Tracey Moffatt. Her work sets melodramatic misé en scenes within pungent atmospheres which seem to rise up and envelop us like a repressed memory. Scarred for Life evokes the printing quality and layout of picture magazines like Life or Post, but they also have a kind of Kodak Instamatic flavour to them. Something More evokes the saturated colours of cheap books, cheap movies or cheap bedroom wall posters. These atmospheres give us a shiver of the uncanny—they are simultaneously from the past and in the present. They are hyper-real and strange, but yet somehow still intimately of us. What charges Moffatt’s melodrama with authentic psychological trauma is the strong mnemonic force of her various photographic styles.
But there seems to be more at stake here than in the knowing stylistic citations of, say, Robyn Stacey, where the artist remains a distanced virtuoso, coolly orchestrating her battery of special effects. Moffatt’s tactic, which certainly in the end is just as knowing, is to allow herself to be enveloped, and to succumb with an almost masochistic delight to the collective memories she unleashes. All of this defies language and takes the viewer beyond the image itself, beyond its mere historical referentiality, and into associated mnemonic, phenomenological and psychological states. The function of these images seems to be to destabilise us, to cast us adrift across the chromogenic currents of personal association.
It is tempting to see these different uses of historic photographs, from horizontal semiotic juxtaposition to vertical stratigraphic layering, as part of a shift in Australian art generally. You could say that they are indicative of the general ‘flight from the sign’ that characterises the shift from the eighties to the nineties—from the classic postmodern concern with textuality to the more recent interest in material and spatial qualities and associations. But I would like to draw an even longer bow, I think that we can also perhaps see here the symptoms of a kind of epochal event within the medium of photography as a whole. Unlike the medium in which Nadar was a pioneer, which was orientated to the future, and scientifically and phenomenologically explorative, photography now is fundamentally retrospective. The medium’s residue, its huge archive, now casts its shadow over every new photograph taken. There are no new prospects for photography, just various new forms of retrospective curatorship.
I think this curatorship may become an important part of the next phase of art photography. We can see it happening in the work of some of the artists in this exhibtion which I have discussed. We can see it in the slew of new coffee table books published very year, such as the Joel Peter Witkin selected Masterpieces of Medical Photography, which excavate and aesthetically valorise ever more arcane pockets of the Total Photographic Archive. We can see it in the ever more sophisticated mannerism of many photographers (and filmmakers) who tweak, embellish and distil past styles. We see it in the work of many photographers (and painters such as Gordon Bennett) who are only able to think the past through the photographic misé en scene—who have no other way of accessing, evoking and imaging pastness itself except through photography. A Kodak slogan from a few years ago, used to market a new, high tech product, seems to capture the current mood of photography pefectly—’the future of memories’.
Photography’s past and its future
‘Photography’s past and its future’, Like Life or Life Like forum, Art Gallery of New South Wales, May, 1996
One of the most famous and evocative images from photography’s history is Nadar’s photograph of neatly stacked bones and skulls in the Paris catacombs. I’ve had this photograph on my mind recently as a kind of visual metaphor for the present state of photography. Taken in the 1860s, the image is still compelling because it comes from photography’s prelapsarian period—when the medium seemed new born amidst an Edenic profusion of fresh new things to see, and photographers relished the innocent discovery and capture of all the wonders of the visible. (Nadar was able to photograph underground for the first time because of his daring use of portable electric lights and posed mannequins.) But for me this image has now come to represent the medium’s state at the end of its history. Since Nadar’s photograph was taken an incalculable number of photographs have become accumulated in millions of archives around the world—ranging from museum collections and government records to private photo albums. The huge subterranean presence of what I call the Total Photographic Archive seems to be defining photography’s current lugubriously retrospective mood.
Certainly this ‘presence of our past’ within photography is well established in Australian visual culture. Examples are numerous. For instance there is the deliberate reuse, parodic or otherwise, of well-known classics of Australian photography, such as Max Dupain’s Sunbaker and Meat Queue. There is the creation of non-specific, but nonetheless precisely authentic photographic atmospheres from the past, produced for numerous fashion, real estate, or breakfast cereal ads. And photographs are now regularly used in Australia when the highest spiritual values of the nation need to be ritually embodied, as in the Vietnam War Memorial, the 1995 Australia Remembers Celebrations, and the Winfield Cup.
These tactics for evoking the past which occur in our broad visual culture are reflected in miniature in the visual strategies of that small part of it called art photography. Over the past fifteen years or so many Australian photographers have reused historic photographs in their work. However lately this reuse has tended to change in its character. In the eighties photographers such as Anne Zahalka raided the archive to appropriate and pastiche well known cultural icons. The authority of the original was deliberately deflated in order to be inserted into a semiotic process of citation and comment. These images were glosses on the received visual texts of the past, gently critiquing their patriarchal or ethnocentric assumptions, or through humorous juxtaposition asking us if those well worn Australian classics might not have needed to be updated in the light of subsequent history. This was a process of historical ‘reading’, where through either cut and paste collage, or recreated dress-up tableaus, images were metonymically and metaphorically juxtaposed in order to be compared and judged by a complicit and knowing audience.
In the 1990s, however, references to the past in Australian art photography are less likely to be cheeky quotational parodies and more likely to be historical excavations into the implacable depths of the image. For instance Leah King-Smith also went to the archive to find images, not to chastise them for their political errors, but to liberate them. There is a painful and inconsolable paradox at the heart of her project. Thousands of photographs were taken of Aboriginal people during the nineteenth century—putatively in the name of positivist anthropological taxonomy, but also as part of a process of colonisation, displacement and genocide. As a Koori artist in residence at the State Library of Victoria, King-Smith rephotographed some of these images, thereby removing the Aborigines from their scientific classifications, and then montaged them over fish-eye shots of the land they once inhabited. They return as frozen ghosts to haunt a land which has irrevocably changed beneath them. Even though the prison wall of the archive may have been burst asunder, there has been no real liberation, all that is found are ephemeral spectres. Although the Aborigines in the photographs still have strong individual facial expressions, evidence of a former personality (and perhaps of silent resistance to the camera), in King-Smith’s work they remain doomed. They look up at us through the depths of history, silent and drowned. The only function of these images is mourning. There is nothing to be read, nothing to be said. The superimposition, hand colouring and fish eye effects give a sense of spatial depth to the images—a vertical dimension back into the ineffable depths of time, history and photography, which in this work all merge into one another.
If the semiotic metonymy and metaphor of collage describes the citational uses of historic photographs in the work of artists in the 1980s, perhaps a suitable metaphor for the reuse of archival photographs with all their temporal associations intact, which occurs in the work of artists in the 1990s such as Leah King-Smith, may be stratigraphy—the archaeological examination of layers of rock. In contrast to a horizontal citational reading of the past, here we have a vertical stratigraphic excavation of the image. The crucial difference is that the photographs reused by the latter artists remain embedded in history and memory, they are not levered out to be processed, reordered and redeployed in the present.
The residual mnemonic power of photographs is exploited by Tracey Moffatt. Her work sets melodramatic misé en scenes within pungent atmospheres which seem to rise up and envelop us like a repressed memory. Something More evokes the saturated colours of cheap books, cheap movies or cheap bedroom wall posters. The colour off-set pages of Scarred for Life evoke the printing quality and layout of picture magazines like Life, but they also have a kind of Kodak Instamatic flavour to them. The strong mnemonic force of her various photographic styles charges Moffatt’s melodramas with authentic psychological trauma. There seems to be more at stake here than in the knowing stylistic citations of, say, Robyn Stacey, where the artist remains a distanced virtuoso, coolly orchestrating her battery of special effects. Moffatt’s tactic, which certainly in the end is just as knowing, is to allow herself to be enveloped, and to succumb with an almost masochistic delight to the collective memories she unleashes. All of this takes the viewer beyond the image itself, beyond its mere historical referentiality, and into associated mnemonic, phenomenological and psychological states. These images cast us adrift across the chromogenic currents of personal association.
It is a familiar complaint about the twentieth century that the past has become increasingly ruptured from the present. Under the reign of Modernity’s technological progress we experience the past less as a supporting, nurturing tradition which is perpetually engendering the present, and more as a commodified series of retinal scenarios which we access retrospectively from a distance. For us now History is a series of stories with causes and outcomes, told within dramatic structures with the aid of pictures. History is technologically produced in the present—encoded for us into books, novels, films, TV shows, re-enactments, historical restorations, and anniversaries—in order to serve the present’s social objectives. This change in history from the environmental to the scenographic has produced a similar change in our collective memory. It is no longer passed hand to hand and mouth to mouth, within a unifying sense of time and place. It too has become retinal and commodified, embodied in photographs, songs, slogans, and fragments of film and TV footage. These images don’t constitute a complete mnemonic environment (as myth and ritual do in tribal societies), but instead prompt individual memories which are then collectivised into popular memory.
Photography therefore has a special relationship with both history and memory. Photographs allow us a ‘window’ on the past, and are therefore the principal showcases of technologically transmitted history. But at the same time photographs act as sharp mnemonic probes into the soft, cerebral matter of personal memory. Sometimes the two functions of the photograph collide, as in the filmed image of the “Dancing Man”, used as an iconic centrepiece to the historical celebrations of the end of WW11, which brought forward separate, mutually exclusive, personal memories from at least four different men, each of whom was absolutely convinced that he was the one and only true “Dancing Man”
The most powerful aspect of photography’s intoxicating verisimilitude is its semiotic indexicality— its optical and chemical adherance to fragments of the real moments of time. But now, after one hundred and fifty years of the accumulation of these billions of isolated physical and temporal fragments, photography is producing an intoxicating intimacy with communal history and popular memory. Now those individuated moments have become collectivised. The private spaces of photographs have joined together through communal use to become almost a social landscape, such that we can now, for instance, almost talk of the one ‘national’ box brownie shot taken in the suburban backyard with the paling fence in the background. The pricks and pangs of the photographic image have become shared, tradeable commodities. Photographs are increasingly becoming negotiable processes for re-establishing broken connections with our forebears, for re-affirming the continuity of fragmented temporalities, and for giving us a reassuring sense of long duration beyond what is an increasingly isolated sense of ‘now’.
For example Fiona Foley uses historic photographs and the genetic continuity and materiality of her own body to re-establish ancestral connections with her dispossessed People of Fraser Island. She poses in the pose to which one of her ancestors was subjected over a century earlier. But she does not simply mourn, or glibly heroicise herself by defiantly returning our gaze. Rather she re-enacts the exchange of gazes which once took place in a nineteenth century photographic studio. By reincarnating the libidinal visual economy of nineteenth century anthropological photography in a twentieth century art gallery she keeps the processes of memory and history alive. One critic has identified here a different kind of response to the end of the millennium: a “custodial aesthetics rather than the prevailing pseudo-existentialist obsession with death and nothingness” (Olu Oguibe, Medium and Memory in the Art of Fiona Foley, Third Text, Winter 1995-96, p60)
Perhaps we are all a bit like that replicant in Blade Runner who, tragically doomed to live in an eternal present with no future and no past, comes to rely on a few photographs to verify her artificial memory implant. Photographs have become our prosthesis memories, simulacra of our past. But now these various memory prosthetics are becoming collectivised and communally transacted. We can see inklings of this in projects such as the Library of Congress’s National Digital Library Program accessed through their Web page American Memory Collection where photographs and other records are available on line, an idea being emulated on a smaller scale by our own Australian Archives.
The past for us is becoming a consensual memory hallucination created by a collectively and simultaneously jacking in to the Total Photographic Archive. I have deliberately recast William Gibson’s famous formulation of cyberspace because if photography is now increasingly identified with the past, the question is raised, what will its role be in the future?
Since I have invoked Blade Runner and Neuromancer, please bear with me while I indulge in a millenarian fantasy of my own. Try to imagine the past. It is relatively easy—the past is made up of photographs and films, real and fictional. Now try to imagine the future. That is much harder. For me, no conventional images readily come to mind, although I suspect that if the same question had been asked in the 1950s it would be easy to imagine, and believe in, conventional SF imagery of a techno-utopia, or alternatively a techno-distopia—depending on taste. Now, however, the futuristic is just another retro style. The past remains photographic or filmic: it is scenographic, perspectival, and prosceniumed. The future, however, has become liquescent: it is fractaled, phenomenological, and vertiginous. (Perhaps some of the hostility to the Museum of Sydney is that it has refused the conventional stability of the photographic or filmic tableau in its displays about the past, and instead has deliberately created a hysterical polyphony of ghosts and virtual presences—a style generally reserved these days for imagining the future.)
In the future there will be no ground on which to plant your feet, and no walls to put your back against. Even the indexical image will be perpetually morphing and fracturing, opening up spatially to admit us into its VRML interior, or denoting something quite different than the photograph’s conventional anterior reality, as in the digitally composite Time cover “The Face of America”, where a national census is both statistically and indexically denoted.
But of course there will still be conventional photographs in the future. Without doubt the private function of the photograph as personal memento will continue. And newspapers are busily trying to establish protocols to contain and stabilise the new liquidity of the image. When they are caught egregiously darkening the only lightly negroid skin of O. J. Simpson, or giving demonic eyes to Martin Bryant, they immediately apologise and dissemble profusely. So it is possible to imagine a time when the photograph, as we conventionally think of it, becomes just one category within a larger set of liquescent, though still indexical, images. It will be protected and valorised, carefully quarantined against digital infection by strict contextual protocols. Rather than being the current representational norm against which visual deviance is measured, it will become a ‘limit case’, with special functions and powers.
Like all millenarian fantasies mine is probably wildly overstated. Certainly photography has always been potentially liquescent right from the start, think for example of the huge enthusiasm for ‘spirit photography’ in the late nineteenth century, or the avant-garde experiments with collage, ostranenie, and visual immersion amongst the Russian Constructivists. But, at the very least, my millenial fantasy of a photography caught between a residual past and a phantasmagoric future casts a useful light on contemporary photographic phenomena. For instance the State Library of NSW’s current exhibition, Photo Documentary: Recent images of everyday life, has a strong sense of its greater eventual importance to an imagined future audience rather than its present day one. The catalogue introduction states: “few personal photographs have significance to anyone other than their owner. But some photographs are much more important. These are documentary photographs which are more public images, showing us aspects of society or our environment that need to be recorded for the future. In addition to the […] ability of the photograph to simply record, they strive to reveal images of enduring interest from everyday life and ordinary spectacle.” The audience is encouraged to project itself into the future and to look back on the present with a historian’s eye. For instance the caption to a Peter Elliston photograph performs a extraordinarily complex hermeneutic forensics on the image (similar to the forensic enhancement and narrativization of a photograph performed by Harrison Ford in Blade Runner) deducing in fetishistic detail the time, date and personal relationships in the image.
It is significant I think that the artists I have mentioned so far, who excavate the implacable heart of the photograph, combine it with another term: the land once inhabited by a dispossessed people as in Leah King Smith, the body of the historical subject genetically persisting, as in Fiona Foley, or pungent memories of adolescent trauma as in Tracey Moffatt. (Nor is it any accident, of course, that they are all Aboriginal. Memory is a much more acutely political and emotional term when history weighs heavily.) I think we have here an indication that in its new protected and cosseted state the photograph will become increasingly a custodial keeping place for a sense of ordered time. I predict that it will grow in ontological status more towards the nameless materiality of the body, land, and organic memory, and away from aesthetics, citational intertextuality and semiotic connotation. There will truly be a corpus of photographs, no longer a conventional document archive to be read, but a monumental virtual catacomb to be exhumed.
Unlike the medium in which Nadar was a pioneer, which was orientated to the future and scientifically and phenomenologically explorative, photography now is fundamentally retrospective, interiorising and densely accretive. There are no new prospects for photography as a medium, just various new forms of retrospective curatorship. We can see evidence of this in the slew of new coffee table books published very year, such as the Joel Peter Witkin selected Masterpieces of Medical Photography, which excavate and aesthetically valorise ever more arcane pockets of the Total Photographic Archive. We can see it in the ever more sophisticated mannerism of many photographers (and filmmakers) who tweak, embellish and distil past styles. We see it in the work of many photographers such as Fiona MacDonald, Alan Cruikshank, Destiny Deacon, John F. Williams and Elizabeth Gertsakis and artists such as Gordon Bennett and Narelle Jubelin who think the past through the photographic misé en scene—who use the photograph to be pastness itself.
A Kodak slogan from a few years ago, used to market their Photo-CD seems to capture the current mood of photography perfectly—’the future of memories’.
Photography is Dead! Long Live Photography!
‘Photography’s Afterlife’, Photography Is Dead! Long Live Photography!, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art, 23 July – 10 November 1996. ISBN 1 875632 47 6, pp 22-25
Let’s get one thing straight. The dawn of the digital age will not mean the death of photography, any more than the birth of photography meant the end of painting—despite the painter Paul Delaroche’s headline grabbing proclamation in 1839 that “from today painting is dead”. Particular inventions do not suddenly drop from the sky and kill off entire visual mediums, like a meteor might kill off dinosaurs. But although photography has not yet met its apocalypse, without a doubt it is currently going through the most profound and radical transformation of its history. Digital imaging and manipulation technologies, various new interactive and immersive technologies, the newly developed ability to package and disseminate multimedia, and the thickening of the telecommunications system into a global web, have all transformed photography so fundamentally that we have to admit that we are witnessing both the death, and the simultaneous rebirth, of the medium.
We cannot speak about these new technologies without also speaking of the cultural practices with which they are imbricated. For instance new technological tools always coexist with old habits of use. Certain aspects of old cultural practices come to be seen, in retrospect, as having always contained prior forms of supposedly new modes of perception. And everything is ultimately determined by the bottom line politics of industrial production and consumption. For these reasons it is impossible to analyse the transformation in photography without acknowledging the sutures of social structure which always bind future technologies to past cultural forms.
Today’s ‘new’ digitally manipulative, immersive, and interactive technologies have many historical precedents. For example theatrical phantasmagorias and the early ‘cinema of attractions’ delighted nineteenth century crowds by testing their scopic credulity against elaborate technological displays of visual illusion. The massively popular ‘spirit’ photographs of the early twentieth century gave grieving relatives the convincing illusion that they were surrounded by the virtual presences and of their deceased loved ones. The sophisticated avant-garde experiments of the Russian Constructivists expanded the conventional perspectival point of view of the photograph and developed new spatially enveloping ways of presenting images in elaborate interactive architectural environments. And the darkroom techniques of the Surrealist photographers generated liquid, ‘convulsive’ images of morphing bodies in non-cartesian spaces.
Photography has always been more or less open to such darkroom ‘fakery’ and other kinds of manipulation. But to point to this in order to play down the present transformation of photography is to be in danger of missing the point about digitisation. From the moment of photography’s invention the fascination of the medium was that, for the first time, the world was not only being represented by the photographer, but also automatically representing itself. The photograph was optically and chemically caused by the real, and was therefore always intrinsically ‘laminated’ to it. The photograph gave us a direct optical transcription of a prior scene. It gave us palpable contact with real bodies. And it gave us the ‘there then’ of the past within the ‘here now’ of the present. Despite the strong non-realist current that has always flowed through photography, up until now each and every photograph’s normative ontological status was based on its indexical relationship to the real.
The relative liquidity of the photographic image has always been in deviation from this solid core of indexicality. The sense of the normative function of the realist photograph is implied in the very words used to describe variations from it—manipulation, fakery, etc. Paradoxically, even the most extreme non-realist photographic image called upon a residual indexicality for its underlying power. No matter how warped the conventional photograph became, the trace of its ultimate origin in the real still gave it a unique corporeal and temporal charge.
It is possible now to speak of the death of photography because this central indexical core, the ontological basis of the image, has become irrevocably softened. The transformation of an optical and chemical image into a data and pixel image has finally prised apart the previously necessary lamination of the photograph to its anterior optical reality. This lamination may still exist in some instances, but it is not necessary, nor is it any longer the central norm around which relative degrees of deviance are permitted.
For example an image like the Time magazine cover “The New Face of America” is still indexical—it was made by morphing together in statistical proportion the photographed faces of various ethnic models to create a single portrait. The seamless, accumulative montage-face represents a national ethnic census both statistically and visually. (A technique, incidentally, which can be traced back, through the computer artist Nancy Burson, to the composite portraiture of the nineteenth century English eugenicist Francis Galton) This photograph does not represent a single anterior reality—a particular woman—but it does still corporeally index a panoptic, genographic ‘sur-reality’—the new face of America.
Images such as this give us an inkling of the way in which, in the future, photography’s indexicality will become more attenuated, certainly, but also more fluid. Recently many artists have experimented with the exhilarating possibilities offered by the digital motility of the photograph’s content, and the pixelated lubricity of its surface. It is increasingly becoming easier, and more common, for photographs to be morphed together to form navigable panoramas; opened up spatially to invite us deep into their VRML interiors; fractured into a myriad hyper-linked shards; selectively enhanced in their salient details; or stretched beyond their rectangular boundaries to distend themselves through space and time.
Digitisation has entered the very flesh of the photographic process. Every newspaper photograph routinely goes through a digital imaging program such as Photoshop before it reaches the presses. However, even with that knowledge, I still habitually ‘believe my eyes’ when I open my morning newspaper. Now it is the protocols of journalism and the context of the newspaper, rather than the ontology of the medium, upon which my faith must ultimately rest. Hence there is good reason for the fuss created when newspapers are occasionally discovered manipulating their photographs. When they are caught egregiously darkening the only lightly negroid skin of O. J. Simpson, or giving demonic eyes to Port Arthur’s Martin Bryant, they are forced to immediately apologise and dissemble profusely. They must shore up any potential leakage of the denotational power of their reportage photographs, even as they tentatively experiment with the illustrative possibilities of the liquescent digital image.
Until now the normative photograph has been scenographic—it was a prosceniumed stage presenting a miniature theatre of the real to our monocular viewpoint. But it is possible to imagine a time when this kind of photograph becomes just one category within a larger set of liquescent, though still indexical, images. Rather than being the current representational norm against which visual deviance is measured, the scenographic photograph will become a ‘limit case’ with special functions and powers. In the future such traditional photographs, with their precious but delicate connection to a particular fragments of the real and precise moments in time, will need to be protected and valorised—carefully quarantined against digital infection by strict contextual protocols.
So even as some photographers are experimenting with the newly liquescent image, others are re-affirming their allegience to the scenographically stable photograph. For instance the State Library of New South Wale’s recent exhibition Photo Documentary: Recent Images of Everyday Life passionately argues for the continued prime importance of the conventional photograph on the grounds that it is the best way of granting future viewers an accurate and reliable window back onto the present. This raises an interesting, but for the moment unanswerable, question. After the rebirth of photography into the digital age, will posterity come to know the present as intimately and as accurately by the nature of our image manipulations and morphs, as by our selective scenographic realities?
The dominant metaphor for the normative photograph has always been the window. (The first ever photograph was taken from one.) Photography has been our window on the world, and our window on the past. But significantly there are few windows in Photography is Dead!, Long Live Photography! —virtually no images mounted in a conventional mat board and frame, and not one image behind a pane of glass. In this exhibition’s version of the long post-mortem life of photography it appears that the scenographic photograph will no longer reign supreme.
The artist photographers chosen for this exhibition have responded in a particular way to the displacement of the scenographic from the centre of their medium and the photograph’s liquid dispersal throughout cyberspace. They show an almost obsessional compensatory concern for the materiality of their images. Each artist gives their photographs a style-conscious, post-industrial facture. For instance Geoff Kleem glues billboard images directly onto the walls of the gallery; Julie Rrap’s ink jet images are printed onto working window blinds; Fiona Macdonald’s photographs are mounted in thick rubber frames; Felicia Kan’s Cibachromes are pinned to curl under their own weight, whilst Anne Zahalka’s are mounted in light boxes, and Rosemary Laing’s are intrinsically bonded onto aluminium or acrylic sheets; Bill Henson’s prints are cut, torn and gaffer-taped back together again onto marine ply; Merilyn Fairskye’s transparencies double themselves by throwing their shadow on the wall; Fiona Macdonald weaves her historical copy photographs together; and so on.
These artists fetishise a particular type of indeterminate materiality—neither hand crafted texture, nor standardised technical substrate. Their images are not transparent like a window or subjectively reflective like a mirror, rather they tend towards a sticky, or sometimes vaporous, opacity. They are either abstract or oneiric, hyperreal or unfamiliar, overtly posed or melodramatically enacted. What, exactly, they are photographs of is also indeterminate. Are they photographs of anterior realities?—in which case those realities are usually unavailable or unfamiliar to the naked eye. Are they photographs of other photographs?—in which case they denote an anterior genre of depiction before they denote any specific anterior reality. Or are they simply photographs of themselves?—aesthetic images of their own material existence.
In this exhibition the photograph is (often literally) laminated to a fabricated technical ensemble, rather than a scenographic reality. These technical ensembles give equal material weight to both the architectonic deployment of the photograph as an object in the gallery space, and the indexical presence of the photograph as an image in the viewer’s phenomenological apperception. These artists have largely abandoned photography’s now deposed scenographic transcription—they do not see the need to either quarantine or valorise it. But they remain deeply enamoured of photography’s persistent consanguinity with the real—which they deliberately amplify into a hybrid physical and optical presence.
Photography is now dispersing in all directions before our eyes. These artists are following one line of flow: the photograph as image corpus, as a persistent bodying forth of the real, even into the newly liquescent, virtual world of the image.
Paper delivered at Power Institute of Fine Arts Post graduate Conference 1999
Why do so many urban Aboriginal photographers re-use old photographs in their work?
In the last decade there has been a flowering of Aboriginal photography, mostly by urban Aborigines. Before the eighties there were very few active Aboriginal photographers – Mervyn Bishop is virtually the only example. During the course of the eighties, as Bishop’s own career came to be recognised, a few other Aboriginal photographers also came to prominence: most spectacularly Tracey Moffatt, but also Michael Riley, Brenda Croft and Ricky Maynard. But in the nineties there has been a veritable explosion. As the recent National Gallery of Australia exhibition Re-take makes clear there has also been a general change in the style of Aboriginal art photography in the 90s: away from a relatively straightforward, but in no sense naive, documentary style – as was used by the Aboriginal contributors to the Bicentennial After Two Hundred Years book, and in the Aboriginal documentation of the Bicentennial protests – and towards a more postmodern, theoretically savvy, ‘art school’ style.
This explosion parallels similar explosions of urban Aboriginal creativity in painting, film and theatre. But more importantly it also parallels a growth in Aboriginal history telling, inaugurated by Marcia Langton’s ‘After the Tent Embassy’, much of which relied on archival photographs.1 As well this explosion accompanies a ratcheting up of the pitch of popular debate about Aboriginal issues and in particular our ethical responsibility to the history and memory of race relations in Australia. Those fateful few words – Mabo, Wik and The Stolen Children – not only resonate plangently in our historical consciousness, but have also planted a specific array of images in our collective visual consciousness: the bearded Mabo himself, barefooted kids in orphanages, etc.
It is perhaps not surprising, then, that contemporary urban Aboriginal photography is characterised by two things: a wordiness, a play or struggle with the weight of words – both English and Aboriginal; and the re-use of old photographs – both historical documents and family snapshots.
Just a quick roll call of the Aboriginal photographers who have, at some time or other re-used old photographs: Leah King-Smith, Brook Andrew, Rea, Julie Gough, Fiona Foley and the painter Gordon Bennet have all directly copied and re-used archival museum and gallery photographs; Fiona Foley and the early Tracey Moffatt have renegotiated their relationship to these ‘received’ images by some kind of performative response in the present; Brenda Croft, Destiny Deacon and Gordon Bennet have directly re-used family snapshots in their work. Received styles or retro atmospheres are also evoked by late period Tracey Moffatt, Destiny Deacon and Brenda Croft.
This is not unique to Aboriginal photography. Old photographs, both personal and historic, and retro atmospheres, both oppressive and kitsch, haunt contemporary photography globally. In particular migrant artists, say for instance Elizabeth Gertsakis, have used old photographs to talk about their dislocation from the past and their, at least partial, alienation from a present which still marginalises their heritage. Many settled white artists, such as say Narelle Jubelin or Fiona MacDonald, also reuse old photographs to talk about general issues of post colonialism in Australia and elsewhere. But then, as Andreas Huysman’s points out, today everybody is dislocated from their past, it is part of our general millennial condition in which we have been cast adrift by the multitude of twentieth century geopolitical diasporas, and muffled by mediating technologies which make historical consciousness and collective memory vicarious experiences.2
The question is, is Aboriginal photography just one further instance of this? Is it a more politically intense instance? Or is it fundamentally different? Certainly few peoples have been so brutally dislocated from their past as Australian Aborigines. And they have long used photography both symbolically and forensically to find their past. Many personal narratives of historical discovery use family snapshots. And several Australian museums now take a proactive role in using their collections to re-forge individual historical connections. For instance the South Australian Museum’s Aboriginal Community and Family History Unit helps Aboriginal people learn more about their families and communities using photographs originally taken by Norman Tindale and Joseph Birdsell and held in the Museum’s Anthropology Archives. 3
However the irony is, that unlike a white person using family snaps as aide memoires at a family reunion or historical images as a forensic genealogical clues, Aboriginal seekers after their family history are often using anthropological photographs that were not made to document individuals, but to identify anthropological types; and not as systematic social records, but as fragmented scientific specimens. They were taken not to confirm historical presence, but to preserve a record in order to posthumously confirm the historical extinction of the original.
A current newspaper cliché is the photograph of an elderly mnemonist either mournfully cradling a photograph from the past, or holding it up in a grim parody of an institutional identity board. The aetiology of this image goes back to Daguerreotype mourning portraits, but I think the current craze in Australian newspapers probably began with images of Aborigines from the stolen generation. Now the visual cliché is used more generally to picture any kind of poignant memory particularly, for some reason, that of war widows. However the Aboriginal images remain the most effective, again because the photographs which are held up were instrumental, not incidental to history. It is perhaps this bitter irony that makes the symbolic use of old photos in urban Aboriginal art, and the forensic use of old photographs by Aboriginal people of the stolen generation, qualitatively different from migrant or mainstream uses of old photographs.
To Gordon Bennet perspective itself is politically implicated. In 1993 he said:
“perspective may be seen as symbolic of a certain kind of power structure relating to a particular European world view … Aborigines caught in this system of representation remain ‘frozen’ as objects within the mapped territory of a European perceptual grid.”4
Lately the anthropological portrait has been held up as not only the theoretical paradigm of colonial attempts at genocide, but also an act of violence technically akin to, and part of, of the very process of that attempted genocide.
Therefore the photographs used by urban Aboriginal photographers are not monuments, they do not commemorate an historical closure on the past. In a way they are anti-monuments, images of unquiet ghosts who refuse to rest in their graves. There is a feeling of active dialogue with the past, a two way corridor through time, almost a voodoo quality, or a sense of New Age channelling. Brenda Croft in her Barthesian meditation on nineteenth century colonial Aboriginal photographs “Laying Ghosts To Rest”, accompanying Portraits of Oceania, comes closest to articulating this feeling. She allows herself the indulgence of retroactively investing the agency of political resistance in the portraits when she says:
“Images like these have haunted me since I was a small child and … [and] were instrumental in guiding me to use the tools of photography in my work.” […] “The haunted faces of our ancestors challenge and remind us to commemorate them and acknowledge their existence, to help lay them, finally, to rest.” 5
Clare Williamson, in discussing Leah King-Smith’s exhibition Patterns of Connection in which archival photographs are superimposed on landscapes, describes how King-Smith pictorially, rather than rhetorically, invests the images with the same ability to project the past into the present. She says:
“It is instructive to examine King-Smith’s imagery alongside the historical images which are her sources. These small black and white photograph’s ‘contain’ their aboriginal subjects as objects which can be held in the hand, collected, stored and viewed at will. Their placement of the figure within a fabricated European (or a constructed ‘native’ one), and set well back from the picture plane, creates a gulf between viewer and subject, and an inequitable relationship in favour of the viewer. King-Smith reverses the order. Large colour saturated images ‘impress’ the viewer. The figures are brought right to the picture plane, seemingly extending beyond the frame and checking our gaze with theirs.”6
Brook Andrew invests the bodies of his nineteenth century subjects, released from the closet of the past, not only with a libidinous body image inscribed within the terms of contemporary media and contemporary ‘liberated’ masculinity, but also with defiant Barbara Krugeresque slogans such as “I Split Your Gaze”. Some of these works also attempt to reverse the relationship of subject and object in the nineteenth century colonial portrait along the trajectory of the gaze, and to make the contemporary viewer the subject of a defiant, ambiguous gaze returned from history.
Even when the contemporary Aboriginal artist’s body ritualistically and purgatorially takes on colonial subjugation, the historic photograph and, more significantly, the alignment of gazes, is still the vitalising channel of connection. In her reading of Fiona Foley’s reinactments of the colonial photographs of her Badtjala ancestors, Olu Oguibe describes how the trans-historical objectifying gaze is made to rebound off Foley’s obdurate, physical body:
“In Foley’s photographs the Other makes herself available, exposes herself, invites our gaze if only to re-enact the original gaze, the original violence perpetrated on her. She does not disrupt this gaze nor does she return it. She recognises that it is impossible to return the invasive gaze, that what purports to be a return gaze is only a mimicry. Instead Foley forces the gaze to blink, exposes it to itself.”7
In these contemporary uses of the colonial photograph the original intention and function of the photographer is evacuated. We find ourselves in his empty shoes, shuttling back and forth along a two way channel formed along the alignment of the two interlocking gazes of sitter and viewer, object and subject, past and present. This gives the Aboriginal use of old photographs a different valency to equivalent uses of old photographs by migrant or long-term settler photographers. Yet, nonetheless, a sense of this channelling pervades all the contemporary uses of old photographs, and is intensified in Aboriginal use.
At this point my narrative frays into loose ends. How to think this Aboriginal re-use of old photographs? And in particular, for my purposes, how to think it in terms of history and collective memory, and the photograph itself as a mnemonic artefact? Below I list some references which I have found suggestive, and which might provide a direction for further theoretical research.
One approach may be to explore the photograph’s magical qualities of mimesis. Michael Taussig, in Mimesis and Alterity, describes ‘primitive’ uses of mimetic magic among the Cuna Indians, which he suggestively refigures in a postcolonial context by equating it to Benjamin’s notion of an ‘optical unconscious’ which can from time to time produces flashes of a ‘profane illumination’. Taussig uses the two laws of sympathetic magic derived from George Frazer’s The Golden Bough: the law of similarity, in which like produces like; and the law of contagion, in which things which have once been in contact continue to act on each other. By ritualistically running back up these channels of sympathetic connection the magician is able to reverse the flow of fact to thought and thing to image, and produce effects in the real world by mimesis. In Taussig’s formulation photographs are ‘mimetically capacious’ technologies. Their indexicality gives sight the ‘bodily impact’ and the ‘phsiognomic effect’ of a ‘tactile vision’. He quotes Benjamin:
“Only when in technology body and image so interpenetrate that all revolutionary tension becomes bodily collective innervation, and all the bodily innervations of the collective become revolutionary discharge, has reality transcended itself to the extent demanded by the Communist Manifesto.’8
In a less utopian and more strategic way, perhaps contemporary Aboriginal photographers are using old photographs to innervate themselves with historical tension Using the mimetic indexicality of the photograph, and the interpenetration of the photograph with both historical and lived bodies, the shaman/photographer reverses the flow of time and answers the call of the dead.
All this talk of shamans and magic is not as whacky as it sounds. The metaphor of the photograph as a ghost image is commonplace, and used by both Kracauer and Benjamin in their influential discussions of photography. There is also general agreement that the images of Aborigines used by these photographs are ‘ghostly’, and haunt the contemporary viewer. Indeed the body politic of Australia as a whole has long been haunted by the ‘Spectre of Truganini’. In their book Uncanny Australia Ken Gelder and Jane Jacobs use Australian ghost stories to describe the uncanniness of Australia’s relationship to Aboriginal spirituality. In postcolonial terms they see hauntings as a productive occurrence:
“‘Ghosts’ simply could not function in a climate of sameness, in a country which fantasises about itself as ‘one nation’ or which imagines a utopian future of ‘reconciliation’ in which … all the ghosts have been laid to rest. But neither can they function in a climate of nothing but difference, where the one can never resemble the other, as in a ‘divided’ nation. A structure in which sameness and difference solicit each other, spilling over each other’s boundaries only to return again to their respective places, moving back and forward in an unpredictable, even unruly manner … : this is where the ‘ghosts’ which may cause us to ‘smile’ or to ‘worry’ continue to flourish.”9
At the very least Aboriginal ghosts remind Australia that there is unfinished business. Raymond Williams makes a distinction between the archaic and the residual, the ‘residual’ for Raymond Williams is “still active in the political process”. These photographs cannot be monuments because they are still left over from the past, residual to history.10 The idea of ghosts soliciting the fickle memory of a too self-absorbed, too quickly forgetful later generation also scans across to the role of ANZAC ghosts in Australian collective memory. Examples are Will Dyson’s famous cartoon A Voice From Anzac of 1927 where two ghostly Anzacs, left on the beach at Gallipoli, receive solace from hearing, across the oceans, the marching feet of their returned comrades on Anzac day. Another example is Longstaff’s Menin Gates 1927. (More recent examples are the eerie freeze frame at the end of Peter Weir’s film Gallipoli, and the digital ghosting used in a video projection behind a Gallipoli landing boat in the Australian War Memorial’s new Orientation Gallery.)
There is a hint of this cross scan in a recent series of photographs by Darren Siwes. By ghosting himself standing to attention in a series of night photographs taken around Adelaide, he seems to be referring to an Aboriginal haunting, but he also evokes a feeling of an Anzac memorial statue.
The idea of the artist shaman also has contemporary currency in the New Age movement. New Agers have often appropriated Aboriginal spirituality, and at the same time contemporary Aboriginals and New Agers are occasionally fellow travellers.11 Leah King-Smith is explicitly New Age. She concludes her artist’s statement by asking that: “… people activate their inner sight to view Aboriginal people.”12 Her work animistically gives the museum photographs she re-uses a spiritualist function. Referring to Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?”, Anne Marsh describes this as a ‘strategic essentialism’. She says:
“There is little doubt, in my mind, that Leah King-Smith is a kind of New Age evangelist and many serious critics will dismiss her work on these grounds. Others will point to the artist’s misplaced desire to represent Aboriginal Australia: to talk for the subaltern, as it were. But I am interested in why the images are so popular and how they tap into a kind of cultural imaginary and use the mythology of photography’s syntax … to conjure the ineffable. … Leah King-Smith’s figures resonate with a constructed aura: the skin which is shed onto the photographic plate is given an enhanced ethereal quality through the use of mirrors and projections. The ‘mirror with a memory’ comes alive as these ancestral ghosts, already simulacra in their Anglo costumes, seem to drift through the landscape as a seamless version of nineteenth century spirit photography.”13
The role of performance is also important to these photographs. In discussing the Bringing Them Home report on the Stolen Generation of 1997, John Frow comments that the report supplements the standard historiographic citation of the past with collaged-in fragments of first-person testimony. Frow uses De Certeau’s discription of historiographic citation which allows the past to lend an effect of reality that validates historical knowledge in the present. Through citation the present makes the past intelligible, but also separates past from present. Collage on the other hand gives the past direct effectively and answerability within the present. In the Stolen Generations inquiry the unmediated, cathartic, performed testimony of witnesses allows the past to report on the present, just as the present is supposedly meant to be soberly reporting on the past.14
Similarly, in their re-use of old photographs, Aboriginal photographers do not cite them, or ‘appropriate’ them, so much as collage them into the present, using them to demand an answer from the present. They are trying not to so much appropriate them across culture, as collage them across time. They ‘re-perform’ the old photograph in the present in order to generate this sense of temporal collage. It might be this need to re-perform which gives many of these photographs their overwrought feeling. They seem histrionic, melodramatic, and pictorially overproduced – as though urban aboriginal photographers have to try very hard to ritualistically get in touch with their ancestors. They use an excessive bricolage of special effects verging on the banal to generate a sense of connection. An important aspect of their success or failure is the supplementation of the viewer’s own politically strategic sense of shame, our desire as good (white) liberals to say ‘sorry’, which we bring to the image.
The question I am therefore left with is: just how strategic is this Aboriginal flirtation with the magic of old photographs. Are they, whilst being made politically active in the present, kept in a dialectical relationship to it? After all photographs of long dead Aborigines are, in fact, merely insubstantial ghosts, they are not the Aborigines themselves. Are contemporary Aboriginal photographers hijacking the past for their own politico/aesthetic ends? In their attempts to break through the historicist impasse that tragically freezes contemporary Australian political discourse, are they collapsing time itself into a banal fantasy of strategic presentness?
1. Catherine De Lorenzo, ‘Delayed Exposure: Contemporary Aboriginal Photography’, Art In Australia, 1997, 35, 1,
2. Andreas Huyssen, Twilight Memories: Marking time in a culture of amnesia, New York and London, Routledge, 1995, , Introduction pp3-9
3See also the Berndt Collection in the Western Australian Museum, and the exhibition Portraits of our Elders by the Queensland Museum. . Michael Aird, Portraits of our Elders, Brisbane, Queensland Museum, 1993,
4. Gordon Bennett, ‘Aesthetics and Iconography: an artist’s approach’, Aratjara: Art of the First Australians, Dusseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, 1993,
5. Brenda L. Croft, ‘Laying ghosts to rest’, Portraits of Oceania, Judy Annear, Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1997, p9, 14
6. Clare Williamson, ‘Leah King-Smith: Patterns of Connection’, Colonial Post Colonial, Melbourne, Museum of Modern Art at Heide, 1996, p46
7. Olu Oguibe, ‘Medium and Memory in the Art of Fiona Foley’, Third Text, 1995-96, Winter 1995-96, , pp58-59
8. Michael Taussig, Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses, New York, Routledge, 1993, p58
9. Ken Gelder and Jane M.Jacobs, Uncanny Australia: Sacredness and Identity in a Postcolonial Nation, Melbourne University Press, 1998, p42
10 Raymond Williams “Dominant, Residual and Emergent”, Marxism and Literature, Oxford University Press, 1977. Quoted in . Ken Gelder and Jane M.Jacobs, Uncanny Australia: Sacredness and Identity in a Postcolonial Nation, Melbourne University Press, 1998, p18
11. L. R. Hiatt, ‘A New Age for an Old People’, Quadrant, 1997, 16, 337,
12. Leah King-Smith, ‘Statement’, Patterns of Connection, Melbourne, Victorian Centre for Photography, 1992,
13. Anne Marsh, ‘Leah King-Smith and the Nineteenth century Archive’, History of Photography, 1999, 23, 2, p117
14. John Frow, ‘The Politics of Stolen Time’, Meanjin, 1998, 57, 2,