Taming Contingency: Photography at the Crossroads between Collections, Archives and Atlases

Bouza Arnoso, E. 2017. Taming Contingency: Photography at the Crossroads between Collections, Archives and Atlases. PhD thesis University of Westminster Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media

TitleTaming Contingency: Photography at the Crossroads between Collections, Archives and Atlases
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsBouza Arnoso, E.

My practice-based PhD investigates how the gathering of visual information through the photographic camera, together with the visual strategies involved in the organisation and configuration of specific groups of images are key processes in the constitution of meaning. I use my own practice to ‘de-construct’ these ideas, to help me understand the role of photography in recording information with the purpose of piecing the gathered material together in an atlas, using the montage, and to finally present the result using the grid as a structure that holds all the photographs together.

One of the main aspects that underlies this research is the role that photography plays in recording information and the way in which historically, photography and archives are constituted together. In the last three decades, the concept of the archive has been given increasing prominence in the field of art. A review of the literature theorising the articulation between archives and art shows that in fact photographs and visual imagery are at the core of most archives. Therefore, the role of photography is one of the key elements to consider in the discussion between archives and art.

My research tries to recover, actualise and visually add to some of the discourses that focus on the singular relationship established between photography and archives. For this I will analyse my own work and artworks that use photography as the first means to gather visual information. However, in the construction of these artworks, artists use a range of organisational strategies borrowed from archives, collections and visual atlases.Therefore, the practices discussed in the thesis including my own neither constitute, nor belong to archives, collections, or visual atlases of images. What they do is to borrow strategies from all these systems, moving between them to create singular artworks that
have a hybrid character.


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