Latent Relations: Photography and the Unseen Character of Lived Experience

This paper suggests another way of thinking about the latent image. Instead of conceiving a dormant interiority, my interest is in exploring dimensions of relational latency. A photograph can be manifestly latent (the traditional negative) but it can also be latently latent; that is the manifest photographic image can itself conceal something. This paper considers the photograph as a charged and imperfect mediator of aspects of lived visible experience. In their inanimate stillness and silence, photographic images engage an energetics of paradox. They project an intimate relation to phenomenal experience, while also manifesting distance and gesturing towards the unseen. This relational tension is considered in terms of strands of photographic theory and the philosophy of perception and imagination. I also consider how this tension plays out in my own recent photographic work. This work explores elusive features of local creek environments, demonstrating, through a rhetoric of excess and reticence, the uncertain nature of manifestation in the photographic image.



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