Theoretical Texts & Research

Theoretical texts & Research –

“Global Garbage: Urban Imaginaries of Waste, Excess, and Abandonment”


Lindner,, C. and Meissner, M. (2015) Global Garbage: Urban Imaginaries of Waste, Excess and Abandonment. [Online] 1st ed. London: Routledge. [Accessed 19th October 2017]



“Garbage is increasingly central to contemporary globalization debates. An online search for the phrase ‘global garage’ produces results such as ‘global garbage crisis’, ‘global garbage detection’, ‘global garbage management’, ‘global garbage summit’, and many more.”

“Garbage has become a global concern. It is implicated in the transitional flow of goods, people, capital, data, and images that thinkers like Arjun Appadurai (1996) consider constitutive of globalization.”

“… in contrast to these forms of flow, garbage can also circulate globally in other, less obvious ways. For instance, garbage can circulate involuntarily, as alarming ecological reports on the many tons of plastic debris drifting around the world’s oceans reveal (Derraik 2002). It can circulate for the sake of elimination, as in international garbage management and disposal programmes. Or it can even circulate as a commodity in its own right in a transitional ‘second order market’, where garbage is bought and sold for recycling or the extraction of raw materials.”

“The Urban metabolism approach seeks to apply a more holistic approach to urban garbage management, taking into account ‘the sum total of the technical and socio-economic processes that occur in cities, resulting in growth, production of energy, and elimination of waste’ (C.  Kennedy 2007).”

“At the same time, due to elaborate recycling systems, specific types of garbage become potentially valuable commodities, whose collection and processing is predominantly carried out in urban environments.”

“Adam Minter (2013) shows how the trade of specific waste materials constitutes a highly elaborate and extremely globalized market. In this worldwide market, waste materials are traded for the extraction of valuable scrap metals.”

“…contemporary films, such as Lucy Walker’s features documentary Waste Land (2010), increasingly turn to the topic of urban garbage. Waste Land documents artist Vik Muniz’s collaboration with catadores (pickers of recyclable material) at Jardim Gramacho, one of the World’s largest landfills near Rio de Janerio. The documentary shows how Muniz and catadores assemble waste materials into artworks, which eventually get sold at a prestigious London-based auction house. Garbage is thus transformed into a commodity and circulates in the global art market.”

“Finally, the socio-anthropological study of garbage also comprises research on the role of cultural values, symbols, and education in relation to wasting and recycling in everyday life.”

“The third dominant perspective in contemporary scholarship on garbage analyses artists’ use of waste material in works of assemblage and bricolage, as well as authors’ and filmmakers’ various engagements – both literal and symbolic – with trash.”

“The practice of garbage assemblage thus offers methods and aesthetics for contemporary artistic experimentation that have the potential to combine, restage, blur, or destabilize established cultural values and meanings.”

“Depending on how garbage is materially processed, places, and made visible, contemporary artworks bring into focus different stages and dimensions of garbage’s travel from individual waste global scope.”


“The image factory: Consumer culture, photography and the visual content industry”




Frosh, P., ed. (2003) The Image Factory: Consumer Culture, Photography and the Visual Content Industry. [Online] Oxford: Berg. [Accessed 19th October 2017]


“In stock photography, of an art director’s sketch but to produce an image for which they are usually – in theory at least – entirely responsible, both conceptually and in terms of technical execution.” (51§)

“…for assignment advertising photographers, the separation of conception from execution, the norm of between their world of work and its products and that of art photographers, for whom the unity of conception and execution is paramount.” (51)

“These standardized scenarios dominate the expectations of advertisers regarding the final image, with the proviso that while the image is to be ‘retrieved’ from the institutional stockpile of advertising stories; it is also to provide, in some way, an original ‘twist’ that will differentiate both the advertisment and the product from other advertisments and product


“The Desirable Body: Cultural Fetishism and the Erotics of Consumption”

Stratton, J., ed. (2001) The Desirable Body: Cultural Fetishism and the Erotics of Consumption. [Online] 1st ed. Manchester: Manchester University Press. [Accesseed 19th October 2017]


“Where the fetishisation of the female body was, in the first place, bound up with the male experience of the state, the extension of that fetishisation to the male body was much more a consequence of the insistent spread of commodification and consumption.” (26)

“The mass market developed in the second half of the nineteenth century. During this period there was a new emphasis on consumption. What this chapter will argue is that cultural fetishism underpinned the acceptance of consumption as a way of life, helping to revolutionize the experience of consumption and driving association with spectacle. Central to this was the experience of a fetishistic desire which was focused on the assimilation of the phallic fetish.” (26)

“The British people were able to concern themselves with more than mere subsistence; they had a surplus to spend on more and better food, on a wider range of clothing, on more elaborate furnishing for their homes and on a greater variety of leisure pursuits.” (26/27)

“From the 1950s onwards, advertising, and its effectiveness were bound up with the experience which was a consequence of the spread of cultural fetishism.” (27)

“Display became of central importance. Williams has shown the close connection between the expositions which began with the one at Crystal Palance in London in 1851 and the first Paris exposition of 1855 (then 1867, 1878, 1889, and culminating in the one of 1900) and the new display techniques for commodities. Commodities were not simply shown.”

“Williams makes the point that exotic displays helped to give the commodities a desirability they had not previously had:

Consumer goods, rather than other facets of culture, became focal points for desire. The seemingly contrary activities of hard-headed accounting and dreamy-eyed fantasizing merged as business appealed to consumers by inviting them into a fabulous world of pleasure, comfort, and amusement.” (29)

“Guy Debord has characterized the present-day experience of the commodified world in terms of spectacle. He argues that: ‘In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all o life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything was directly lived has moved away into a representation. He goes on to explain that: ‘The spectacle is the moment when the commodity has attained the total occupation of social life. Not only is the relation to the commodity visible but it is all one sees; the world one sees is its world.” (29)

“For Richards what was so striking about the Great Exhibition was ‘the use of the commodity as a semiotic medium – as icon, commemorative, utopia, language, phenomenology, annunciation; in a word, as spectacle. This was because the Exhibition was, above all else, a celebration of commodities.”

“Previously, ‘despite all the stunts, tricks, and gimmicks that advertisers used to dress up their offerings, the representation of the commodities remained remarkably stable for the first half of the nineteenth century’. He suggests that the Great Exhibition of 1951 ‘represents a pivotal moment in the history of advertising, for the particular style it created for the commodity ultimately transformed the advertising a foundational role in the spectacularisation of commodities.”

“For Marx commodity fetishism describes the experience in which the commodity hides the process of its own production.” (31)

“Here I will distinguish two different types of commodity fetishism. One I will describe as passive, the other as active. The commodity fetishism theorized by Marx is passive. Passive commodity fetishism disarticulates the experience of the commodity from the process of production so that the commodity seems to come into existence at the point of commercial exchange, the moment when it appears in a shop as an item to be sold and brought. Active commodity fetishism begins from the relations outlined by Marx but describes the energisation of the commodity, and of the commercial exchange, through its association with sexual desire. ” (31)


“The distinction between passive and active commodity fetishism is focused in particular on the relations between the commodity and the consumer. In passive commodity fetishism, the commodity disguises from the consumer its origin in the process of capitalist production, appearing only as an object to the gaze of the consumer. The objectification of the commodity, its reification, is closely bound up with the commodity’s apparently suis generis existence.” (32(



“A Geology of Media”

Parikka, J. (1976) A Geology of Media. [Online]  Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. [Accessed 19 October 2017]


“The book argues that the world of thought, senses, sensation, perception, customs, practices, habits, and human embodiment is not unrelated to the world of geological strata, climates, the earth, and the massive durations of change that seem to mock the timescales of our petty affairs.” P.vii

“Science and engineering has a significant impact on the earth. The idealized object of knowledge itself registers the observing gaze that was supposed to be at a distance.” P. vii

“The relations to the earth are also part of the social relations of labor and exploitation that characterized emerging industrial capitalism of the nineteenth century as much as they characterize contemporary digital capitalism of the twenty-first century from mining minerals, geopolitics of the hunt for energy, and material resources to the factories of production of computational equipment.” P. viii

“There is more mining than data mining in A Geology of Media. More specifically, it is interested in the connections of media technologies, their materiality, hardware, and energy, with the geophysical nature: nature affords and bears the weight of media culture, from metals and minerals to its waste load. ” P.viii

“One is led to consider the systematic laboratorization of everyday culture: even the mundane is produced through a mix of the archaic underworld and the refined scientific process.” P.viii

“But there is a connection to the capitalist intensification of modes of production with the necessity to expand into new resource bases to guarantee growth. What we now perceive as the environmental catastrophe at times branded as the “Anthropocene” of human impact on the planet matches in some periodization also what Marx and Engels narrativize as a crucial political-economic shift.” P. ix-x

“Marx and Engels’s political characterization of capitalism as a mode of mobilizing science and engineering into productive forces is also what now we live as the aftereffect coined the “Anthropocene.” P.x

‘Plastic Bags’, in “The Ethics of Waste: How We Relate To Rubbish” by Gay Hawkins

Hawkins, G. (2005) ‘Plastic Bags’ in The Ethics of Waste: How We Relate to Rubbish. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, pp. 24- 35

“Waste is something we all have to manage; beyond biological necessity, we expel and discard in the interest of ordering the self, the interest of maintaining a boundary between what is connected to the self and what isn’t.” (24)

“Habits locate us not simply in a social context but in a habitat, a specific place of dwelling or position.” (25)

“Through these habits, we manage the circulation of objects into and out of our lives and reestablish the boundaries of the self, and this is how the cultivation of a particular self.” (25)

“In consumer cultures, everyday waste habits express an ethos of disposability.” (25)

“The rise of packaging, for example, was justified on the grounds that the consumer could be assured that the products were uncontaminated.” (26)

“Disposable things, like technology, satisfied needs fast and effectively. They helped to make housewives more efficient and to identify the truly modern household; they became markers of social distinction.” (26)

“Ideas about purification and convenience were central to the promotion of disposable objects”. (26)

“While there was a counterdiscourse about disposable as wasteful and a threat to more careful material relations, these negative connotations were marginalized as throw-away things spread and became incorporated into practices of the modern self and household management. Using disposable things was an indicator of one’s commitment to new standards of cleanliness and efficiency. These objects conferred status on the user.” (26-27)

“Commodity relations inaugurated major transformations in the structure of identity and the material everyday – the number of possessions people lived with, how they acquired them, and how they disposed of them.” (27)

“While there is no doubt that the massive growth of consumption is directly linked to the massive growth of waste, this isn’t much help in thinking about how consumption has changed waste habits; in understanding what this activity has done to the way we relate to things and the way we reject them.” (27)

“Seriality and the fetish of the new provide key insights into this question. Constant change is fundamental to the expansion of markets and the circulation of the commodity form.” (27)

“Fixed prices removed any need for the human interaction of bargaining and the restricted consumption to a relation between consumer and merchandise. The rise of advertising was equally crucial in nurturing a fascination with the commodity and in normalizing the practice of shopping.” (28)

“The general consensus in left critique of mass consumption is that it has led to lives saturated with objects. However, within this material density, the capacity to engage with the qualitative character of these objects has diminished. This is because, when use value was replaced by exchange value, people no longer made the objects they lived with. They were distanced from the objects’ production and immediate materiality.” (28)

“…despite being surrounded by commodities, we are distanced from the material substance of things. According to Marx, the damage of the commodity for is primarily felt in humans who are deprived of sensuous relations with things and succumb, instead, to crude fetish worship.” (28)

“The processes of alienation and abstraction objectify both people and things. They substitute the qualitative for the quantitative and mask the unequal power relations that structure how commodities are produced.” (28)

“This “phantom objectivity”, as Marx calls it, is also the source of the commodity’s fetish qualities, its capacity to seem animated and alive.” (28)

*”The magical qualities of the commodity obliterate its origins and its final destination. Often this destination may not be landfill; things can move out of commodity status without being rubbish.” (29)

“Single-use objects and commodities reconstituted person-thing relations in different, but related ways. Both contributed to the rise of an ethos of disposability and the emergence of new waste habits that made throwing things away with little concern possible.” (29)

“The kind of self-produced through the habit of disposabilty was a self for whom “waste” had few moral connotations, a self whose waste practices confirmed its sense of mastery over the separation from the world. When commodity cultures redefined the meaning of freedom as “freedom to consume,” this also meant freedom to waste.” (29)

“Disposability frames waste habits in terms of straightforward elimination, a necessary part of progress and consumption.” (30)

“Waste has become visible, a landscape in its own right. This doesn’t mean that disposing isn’t flourishing: rather, a different problematization of waste has emerged over the last thirty years that has made trouble for the habit of thoughtless elimination.” (30)

Antilitter Campaigns –

“These campaigns linked the individual body to the social body. A favored image in them was (and still is) the disembodied hand in the act of dropping rubbish. This gesture of separation was no longer a sign of pollution.” (30)

“This is how antilitter campaigns problematized the ethos of disposabiltiy, by implicating it in environmental and moral decline. Waste was exceeding its limits, it was no longer contained in appropriate placed but was everywhere; classificatory boundaries were collapsing.” (30)

“Waste is now something to be managed, disposal has become implicated in a morality less concerned with maintaining the purity of the subject and more concerned with protecting the purity of the environment and establishing the virtue of the careful “waste manager”.” (30)

“In managing our domestic waste according to new principle of self-scrutiny, we are making the self an object of reflection in and through our relations with waste.” (31)

“The emergence of waste management discourses show how moral problematization has functioned to justify a range of interdictions and self-disciplines that have changed how we dispose of things. This is a technology of governing, a way of guiding conduct whereby we can see the links between the broader political rationalities of waste policy and the microtechnologies of daily living; whereby we can see how permeable the boundaries are between the domestic, the voluntary, and the governmental.” (31)

“No longer the lugging of the bin to the curb a couple of times a week, now its a complex assemblage of actions; collecting all the papers and cardboard (clean only) and putting them in their special containers, rinsing the bottles and cans, removing labels and lids and allocating them to their container, putting the food scraps in the compost or worm farm (no meat), of the domestic waste education and the ways this has become enfolded with a new consciousness about rubbish. And this conscious is a significant element of our attachment to changed waste habits.” (31)

“The play of guilt and obligation are an ever-present subtext as we are extolled to do our bit.  This is moral compunction. Obedience to new regimes of domestic waste management depends on a monitoring and disciplining relation to the self.” (33)

“Wate habits are represented as flat, static, and mechanical, and easily altered with appeals to reason and conscience. There is no room for disgust or horror or pleasure or resentment. No room for movement between different registers of subjectivity or for any recognition of how changes in practices of the self may affect other ethical sensibilities.” (34)

“Rubbish relations still mean mastery and control; we may have become more careful and attentive with our waste, but it is still absolutely and unquestionable separate from the self, something to be gotten rid of.” (34)

“He isn’t mourning the planet, he’s morning the pleasures of disposal free of macropolitical governmental restraints.” (35)

“Poetics” in Minimal Ethics for the Anthropocene by Zylinkska, J.

Zylinska, J (2014) Minimal Ethics For the Anthropocene. Michigan: Michigan Publishing. pp. 105-121

“Understood the supposed “sixth mass extinction of species in the history of life on Earth” (Heise 2010: 49), the Anthropocene acquires its meanings and values through certain types of artistic, or, more broadly, cultural interventions, both written and visual ones, most of which inscribe themselves is what Ursula Heise has described as “the rhetoric of decline.” (105)

“The repetition of the trauma of extinction and the ensuing annihilation of the various monuments of human ingenuity in each episode of Life after People is aimed at shaking up the people on the other side of the screen while simultaneously restoring their sense of wholeness, control and peace, thus allowing them to enjoy the spectacle.” (108)

“Indeed, pleasure – which is the other key component of the sublime, alongside horror – is very much part of the experience.” (107)

Photomedia Module Reader 2016-2017

Goddard, B. and Wilson, S. (2016) Photomedia Module Reader 2016-2017. Bristol: Carbon Neutral.

Surrealist Photography: (pp.121-124)

Psychic Automatism:

“…provided a means to bypass (repressive) reason and find a direct route to the (savage, uncivilized) workings of the unconscious mind.” (122)

“Psychic automatism” refers to techniques of “automatic” writing, drawing and photography.” (122)

“Such techniques involved elements of chance in the production of writing and images and included games where a picture or piece of writing is passed from one person to the next who completes it ‘blind’ (‘exquisite corpse’). Automatism also questions conventional notions of authorship and intention.” (122)


“The way banal, everyday things could suddenly seem strange, disturbingly unfamiliar or outlandish. Techniques of estrangement could be used to make people question the ordinariness of the ordinary, the normal order of things in capitalism, throwing the comfortable and every day into sudden anarchy.” (122)

“It is linked to use of contradictory or unlikely juxtaposition…” (122)

Convulsive Beauty:

“…commonly associated with the Surrealists interest in female hysteria and madness.” (122)

“The surrealists recognized hysteria (and its counterpart in shellshocked soldiers) as both the result of trauma and one antidote to the contemporary emphases on almost machine-like bodily control, containment, perfect masculinity, and femininity.” (123)

Fixed Explosive:

“…it is the arrested motion of the dancer which is ‘convulsive.’ Foster goes on to suggest that photography is in many ways perfect for convulsive beauty because it has the ability to arrest time. Photography turns nature into culture (by making it signify – the is the veilled-erotic) and it arrests the world in motion (fixed-explosive).” (124)

Still Life Photography: (pp.

“There is some dispute over whether to see the objects in them as signifiers for other things part of a complex code in which has to be learned, or whether these are more likely to be pictures about looking, about the visible world, and how to represent it.” (125)

“Dutch still life is connected with notions of attentive looking in the seventeenth century, which were in turn linked to the development of new devices for looking attentively at the world (lenses, microscopes, the camera obscura).  She emphasizes the attention to the surfaces of things, the material world yielding itself to the viewer, as opposed to an established view of Dutch still life which sees it as primarily allegoric or emblematic, seeing material things as ciphers, or symbols for larger moral messages.” (p126)

Walker Evans, from ‘Now Let Us Praise Famous Men’ (1936)  [Truth Claim of Photography]

“…no natural or necessary connection between a signifier (form) and a signalled (meaning) but also no natural or necessary connection between a sign and the object or aspect of experience it refers to (which Pierce called its referent). (Instead this connection is established by the consensus of a community, or dominant social classes attempt to enforce their language use and meanings on the rest of the community.” (2016-2017: 54)

Symbolic Photographic Truth…

“Symbolic signs correspond to Saussure’s arbitrary sign. Words tend to be symbolic.” (2016-2017: 54)

* Iconic Photographic Truth…

“Indexical signs are related to their referents by causality: a fingerprint is an indexical sign of the finger, car tracks in sand are an indexical sign of a car. Photographs are indexical signs of what they represent because they are caused by the light bouncing off that object leaving traces on photographic paper or film.” (2016-2017: 54)

“So it is the indexical quality of the photo which acts as its guarantee of truthfulness.” (2016-2017: 54)

Cites an extract from Roland Barthes, 1981. Camera Lucidia. Refections of Photography. New York: Hill and Wang, pp. 76-87.

“[…] in photography I can never deny that the thing has been there. There is a superimposition here: of reality and of the past. […] in front of a photograph a consciousness does not necessarily take the past of memory […] but for every photograph existing in the world, the path of certainty: the photograph’s essence is to ratify what it represents […] every photography is a certificate of presence.” (2016-2017: 55)

Cites an extract from William Stott, Documentary Expression and Thirties America., London: Oxford University Press 1973, p14.

“This is how documentary works… It defies comment; it imposes its meaning. It confronts us the audience, with the empirical evidence of such nature as to render dispute impossible and interpretation superfluous. All emphasis is on the evidence; the facts themselves speak… since just the facts matters, it can be transmitted in any plausible medium… The heart of documentary is not form or style but always content.” (2016-2017: 56)

Cites an extract from Abigail Solomen-Godeau,’ Who is Speaking Thus? Some Questions about Documentary Photography in Photography at the Dock. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 1991 (pp. 169 and 180) 

“…any photographic image expresses an indexical relation to whatever appeared before the lens at the moment of exposure, that the image is a documentary of something.” (2016-2017: 57)

“…one could argue that the conception of photography as a faithful and unmediated transcription of physical appearances (residual traces of the ancient faith notwithstanding) has long since been abandoned.” (2016-2017: 57)

“…while photographers compose and organise their images to yield a certain meaning, rarely is a photograph’s subject neutral or unmarked to begin with. Added to the significance of subject matter on this level of denotation and connotation, and to the significance produced by contextual factors, are those elements supplied through mechanisms internal to the apparatus which also serve to structure meaning. These mechanisms in and of themselves produce certain effects, perhaps the most important on in photography being Barthes “reality effect.”…” (2016-2017: 57)

“This structural congruence of point of view (the eye of the photographer, the eye of the camera and the spectator’s eye) confers on the photograph a quality of pure but delusory, presentness.” (2016-2017: 57)

Cites an extract from Derrick Price ‘Surveyors and Surveyed: Photography Out and About’, p 77 in Wellz, Liz, Photography: A Critical Introduction, Routledge 2000.

“Among these was the notion that we need to trust, not the mechanical properties of the camera, but the personal integrity of the photographer.” (2016-2017: 59)

“The camera would provide not the objective facts that were craved by positivism, but accounts of the world in which ‘truth; was achieved through the power of the image-maker.” (2016-2017: 59)

“The photographer, on this account, is both gifted with a particular acuity of vision and acts as a kind of ‘exemplary sufferer’ on our behalf: an artist who, in his or her person, becomes a guarantor of the accuracy is not certified by the medium itself, but is only validated through the personal qualities and professional practices of the photographer.” (2016-2017: 59)

Cites John Tagg (1987) in ‘Evidence, truth and order: a means of surveillance’ in The Burden of Representation. London: Macmillian.  (p.60 – 102)

“Central to Diamond’s conception of photography as a method os procuring a new kind os knowledge was an idea expressed in The Lancet that: ‘Photography is so essentially the Art of Truth – that it would seem to be the essential means of reproducing all forms and structures of which science seeks for delineation.’ [12]. ” (2016-2017: 71)

“The value of the camera was extolled because of the optical and chemical processes of photography were taken to designate a scientifically exploited but ‘natural’ mechanism producing ‘natural’ images whose truth was guaranteed.” (2016-2017: 71)

Bate, D. (2004) Photography, and Surrealism: Sexuality, Colonialism, and Social Dissent. [Online] London: I.B. Tauris [Accessed 15 March 2017]

“Within the walls of such binary oppositions surrealism can be reduced (safely) to a wish to escape from ‘reality’ into fantasy and the irrational.” (2004:6)

“…surrealism as a discursive formation was far from ‘anti-rational’.” (2004:7)

Surrealist ties with escapism and the sub-conscious and unconscious – Tied with Freudian psychology.

“More specifically, surrealism had two attitudes to the structures of psychical reality and material reality.” (2004:8)

“Here surrealism was a close to a conventional notion of ‘consciousness raising’ as in Marxist practice, the attempt to make people materially aware of their unconscious values,  beliefs and ideology.” (2004:8)

“In surrealism, automatic writing is the means to attempt a notion of psychic expression within control by conscious thought or reason. Thus the automatic image is that which is conjured up as the psychical thought, the ‘mental image’” (2004:54)

Peres, R. (2013) The Focal Encyclopaedia of Photography. [Online] 4th ed. Burlington: Focal Press. [Accessed 15 March 2017]

“A still life is an arrangement of inanimate (or mostly inanimate) elements that express pictorial, narrative, or metaphorical content.” (2013: 324-325)

“The most basic challenge of the still-life photographer is to create a composition of objects that are defined by light.” (2013: 325)

“These opulent paintings contain lavish tableau arrangments of flowers, fruits, material treasures, and artefacts. The objects seem to be bathed in light that reveals texture, volume, space, and reality.” (2013: 325)

“The rudiments of a still-life photograph begin with the arrangement of light, shadow, form and space. Natural or artificial light is used to define the subjects texture surface, shape or form. Directional sidelight is used to convey textual quality while emphasising the line and shape inherent in the subject.” (2013: 325)

“The large image size and the camera;s movements that control perspective and depth of field allow exact rendering of shape and fine detail. Although still-life photographs have been created with every type and format of camera, the highest resolution and image quality are desirable.” (2013: 325)

“Many still-life compositions are visual representations of objects that have been isolated from their environment. In this method, the photographer is concerned with replicating the subject in its truest form.” (2013: 325)

“By alluding to an abstract idea or an emotion instead of the object’s physical characteristics, the photographer transforms the literal quality of the object through symbolic associations.” (2013: 325)

Foster, H. (1993) Compulsive Beauty (1st ed.) London: MIT Press

“I believe this concept to be the uncanny, that is to say, a concern with events in which repressed material returns in ways that disrupt unitary identity, aesthetic norms, and social order. In my argument, the surrealists are not only drawn to the return of the repressed but also seek to redirect this return to critical ends.” :xvii

“This basis of surrealist connections between symbols, beauty and hysteria, critical interpretations and paranoid projections.” :xviii

“As is well-known, the uncanny for Freud involves the return of a familiar phenomenon (image or object, person or event) made strange by repression. This return of the repressed renders the subject anxious and the phenomenon ambiguous, and this anxious ambiguity produces the primary effects of the uncanny: (1) an indistinction between the real and the imagined, which is the basic aim of surrealism as defined in both manifestos of Breton; (2) a confusion between the animate and the inanimate, as exemplified in the surrealist repertoire; and (3) a usurpation of the referent by the sign or of physical reality by psychic reality, and here again the surreal is often experienced, especially by Breton and Dali, as an eclipse of the referential by the symbolic; or as an enthrallment of a subject to a sign or a symptom, and its effect is often that of the uncanny: anxiety.” :7

“Freud traces the estrangement of the familiar that is essential to the uncanny in the very etymology of German term: unheimlich (uncanny) derives from heimlich (homelike), to which several senses of the world return.” :7

“For this category of the veiled-erotic Breton offers these images: a limestone deposit shaped like an egg; a quartz wall formed like a sculpted mantle; a rubber object and a mandrake root that resemble statuettes…” [Automatist creation] :23

“All are instances of natural mimicry, which relates them to other phenomena prized by surrealists…” :23

“…the veiled-erotic is uncanny primarily in its in/animation, for this suggests the priority of death, the primordial condition to which life is recalled” :25

Does this link to the use and degradation of objects?

“The fixed explosive, the second category of convulsive beauty, is uncanny primarily in its im/mobility, for this suggests the authority of death, the dominant conservatism of the drives.” :25

“…the fixed-explosive involves an “expiration of motion” (AF 10), and Breton provides two examples. The first is only described: a “photograph of a speeding locomotive abandoned for years to the delirium of a virgin forest” (AF 10). The second is only illustrated: a Man Ray photograph of a tango dancer caught, body and dress ablur, in midtwirl. In the first image, which deepens the ambiguous role of nature in convulsive beauty, an old train engine lies engulfed in a bed of vines. Nature here is vital yet inertial: it grows but only, in the guise of death, to devour the progress of the train, or the progress that it once emblemised.” :25″

“Crash” by JG Ballard

 Ballard, J.G. (1995) Crash. [Online] London: Harper Perennial. [Accessed 19th October 2017]


J.G. Ballard’s Crash is a novel that explores taboo sexual fetishism, the narrative follows a set of protagonists that become sexually around by witnessing or partaking in car-crashes. Although upon initial inspection, this piece seems a far cry from my photographic investigation into capitalist waste-culture and the study of commercial entropy although this represents an investigation and illustration of the extremes of fetishism in the context of the destroying the commodity form (In this instance, a car).

“It was only at these times, as he described this last crash to me, that Vaughan was calm. He talked of these wounds and collisions with the erotic tenderness of a long-separated lover. Searching through the photographs in his apartment, he half turned towards me, so that his heavy groin quietened me with its profile of an almost erect penis.” p.5

“For Vaughan the car-crash and his own sexuality had made their final marriage. I remember him at night with nervous young women in the crushed rear compartments of abandoned cars in breakers’ yards, and their photographs in the postures of uneasy sex acts.” p.6

“The repeated sequences of crashing cars first calmed and then aroused me. Cruising alone on the motorway under the yellow glare of the sodium lights, I thought of myself at the controls of these impacting vehicles.” p.6

“Vaughan unfolded for me all his obsessions with the mysterious eroticism of wounds: the perverse logic of blood-soaked instrument panels, seat-belts smeared with excrement, sun-visors lined with brain tissue. For Vaughan each crashed car set off a tremor of excitement, in the complex geometries of a dented fender, in the unexpected variations of crushed radiator grilles, in the grotesque overhang of an instrument panel forced on to a driver’s crotch as if in some calibrated act of machine fellatio. The intimate time and space of a single human being had been fossilized for ever in this web of chromium knives and frosted glass.” p.7


Participation, Remediation, Bricolage: Considering Principal Components of a Digital Culture by Mark Deuze

Deuze, M. (2006) Participation, Remediation, Bricolage: Considering Principal Components of a Digital Culture. In: The Information Society, 22. London: Routledge. pp63-75

“…the implication in the context of new media theory and the literature on digital culture could be that “cyberculture” is in fact not a function of either humans or machines, but an expression of an increasingly individualized society in a globalized world.” (63)

“I consider digital culture in the context of this essay, as an emergent value system and set of expectations as particularly expressed in the activities of news and information media makers and users online, whereas I see the praxis of digital culture as an expression of individualization, post-nationalism, and globalization.” (63-64)

“… behaviors and expectations in digital environments are not brand new phenomena that jumped into being the moment the first computer went online. Nor are the principal components of a digital culture particular to the production and consumption of either commercial, creative commons or open-source news and information.” (64)

“Digital Culture gets expressed in electronic or digital media that are so deeply embedded in everyday life that they disappear (Reaves & Nass, 1996: Papper et al., 2004). Lievouw and Livingstone (2002) urges us to look at our “new media” surroundings in terms of “the artifacts or devices that enable and extend our abilities to communicate; the communication activities or practice we engage in to develop and use these devices, and the social arrangements or organizations that form around the devices and practices” (Online).” (64-65)

“…it is also a form of participatory user-generated content what has been called “we media” as it allows anyone to post and upload files, information, and news without a formal editorial moderation or filtering process (Hyde, 2002; Bowman & Willis, 2003; Gillmor, 2004). Indymedia should be seen as a loosely organized set of social arrangements developing around the practices and ideals of open publishing and collaborative “nonhierarchical” storytelling (Platon & Deuze, 2003)” (65)

“Hall (2001) and Pavlik (2001) place news and journalism online in the social context of an evolving information society as typified by the dismantling of carefully cultivated hierarchal relationships between (mass) media consumers and producers.” (65)

“A digital culture does not imply that everyone is or sooner or later will be online and better for it, but assumes that in the ways humans and machines interact in the context of ever-increasing computerization and digitization or society, an emerging digital culture is expressed. Such a culture thus has implications on a shared level – both online and ofline.” (66)

“Manovich (2001), introducing the concept of an information culture as manifested in the convergence of media content and form, of national and cultural traditions, characters, and sensibilities, as well as a mixing of culture and consumers.” (66)

“Stephens (1998) signaled how edited and otherwise manipulated image-based reality was gaining over transmitted print-based reality in the global multitudes; daily mediated lived experience.” (66)

“Both Perspectives single two mutually constitutive features of digital culture: remediation as the remix of old and new media, and bricolage in terms of the highly personalized, continuous, and more or less autonomous assembled disassemble and reassembly of mediated reality. Instead of relying on journalists, public relations officers, marketing communications professionals , and other professional storytellers to make sense of our world, we seem to become quite comfortable in telling and distributing our own versions of those stories as exemplified by the global popularity of actively playing and modifying (“modding”) online computer games.” (66) 

“The emergence of a fragmented, edited, yet connected and networked worldview in itself is part of digital culture, particularly as access to an increased use of the internet and other computerized applications function as accelerators or amplifiers of a digital culture (Agre, 2002).” (66)

“Something is going on in the daily lives of media users worldwide that makes them (us) accept the fact that reality is constructed, assembled, and manipulated by media, and that the only way to make sense of that mediated world is to intervene and thus make sense of worldview accordingly – which in turn shaped and renews the properties of media, more closely reflecting the identity of the remediating, bricoleur instead of the proverbial couch potato.” (66)

“…In the proliferation and saturation of screen-based, networked. and digital media that saturate our lives, our reconstitution is expressed as:

  1. Active agents in the process of meaning-making (we become participants).
  2. We adopt but at the same time modify, manipulate, and thus reform consensual ways of understanding reality (we engage in remediation)
  3. We reflexively assemble our own particular versions of such as reality (we are bricoleurs). ” (66) 

“I see this digital culture as emerging from practices and communicative acts online and offline, shaping and being shaped by artifacts, arrangements, and activities in “new” and “old” media ….” (66-67)

“Participation as a core element of the currently emerging digital culture also has its roots in “DIY” (do-it-yourself) culture, particularly flourishing during the 1990s, with people increasing claiming the right to be heard rather than be spoken to – such as is the case of the traditional mass media broadcasting model.” (67)

“Bolter and Grusin (1999) argue that every new medium diverges from yet also reproduces older media, whereas old media refashion themselves to answer the challenges of new media.” (68)

“Distantiation can be understood to mean a manipulation of the dominant way of doing or understanding things in order to juxtapose, challenge, or even subvert the mainstream.” (68)

“…. distantiation refers both to an inevitable social trend – individualization – a to a more or less deliberate social act – deconstructing and/or subverting symbols, images, and other mediated products of whatever is perceived as “mainstream”.  This suggests that digital culture can be partly characterized by the distantiation of the individual from society coupled with a remediation of old media by new media.” (69)

“I have used to discuss remediation in the context of digital culture also show that it does not necessarily mean different from, or in radicle opposition to, the mainstream or dominant ways of doing things, but rather as an expression of a distinctly private enactment of human agency in the face of omnipresent computer-mediated reality.” (70) 

“Remediation and distantication in digital culture perhaps mean being deeply immersed in a system while at the same time attributing legitimacy and credibility to a self-definition of working against or outside of the system, as well as reforming the system from within.” (70)

Susan Sontag, On Photography

Sontag, S. (2005) On Photography. [Online] 1 ed. New York: Rosettabooks [Accessed 7th December 2017]

“This is very insatiability of the photographing eye changes the terms of confinement in the cave, our world. In teaching us a new visual code, photographs can alter and enlarge our notions of what is worth looking at and what we have the right to observe.” (1)

“Photographs, which fiddle with the scale of the world, themselves get reduced, blown up, cropped, retouched, doctored, tricked out.” (2)

“Photography has become one of the principal devices for experiencing something, for giving an appearance of participation.” (7)

“The sense of the unattainable that can be evoked by photographs feeds directly into the erotic feelings of those whom desirability is enhanced by distance.” (12)




Decoding Advertisements: Ideology and Meaning in Advertising by Juidith Williamson

Williamson, J. (1995) Decoding Advertisements: Ideology and Meaning in Advertising. London: Boyars.


“Advertisements are one of the most important cultural factors moulding and reflecting our life today.  They are ubiquitous, an inevitable part of everyone’s lives; even is you do not read a news paper or watch television, the images posted over our urban surroundings are inescapable.” (1995: 11)

[Advertisements] “Their very existence in more than one medium gives them a sort of independent reality that links them to our own lives; since both continuity, they constitute a world constantly experienced as real.” (1995 :11)

“The ad ‘world’ becomes seemingly separate from the material medium – whether screen, page etc, – which it carries.” (1995:11)

“But with another function, which I believe in many ways replaces that traditionally fulfilled by art or religion. It creates structures of meanings.” (199:11-12)

“Suppose that the car did a high mpg; this could be translated in terms of thriftiness, the user being a ‘clever; saver, in other words, being a certain kind of person. Or is the ‘petitness’, the daredevil kind of person who is too ‘trendy’ to be economising. Both statements in question could be made of the purely factual level of ‘use-value’ by the simple figures ’50 mpg’ and ’20 mpg’. (1995: 12)

“Certainly advertising sets up connections between certain types of consumers and certain products (as in the example above); and having made these links and created symbols of exchange it can use them as ‘given’ , and so can we.” (1995: 12)

“For example: diamonds may be marketed by likening them to eternal love, creating a symbolism where the mineral means something not in its own terms, as a rock, but in human terms, as a sign. Thus a diamond comes to ‘mean’ love and endurance for us. Once the connection has been made, we begin to translate the other way and in fact we skip translating altogether: taking the sign for what it signifies, the thing for the feeling.  So in the connection of people and objects, the two do become interchangeable, as can be seen very clearly in ads of two categories.” (1995: 12-13)

“Advertisements are selling us something else besides the consumer goods: in providing us with a structure in which we, and those goods are interchangeable, they are selling us ourselves.” (1995: 13)

“An attempt to differentiate amongst both people and products is part of the desire to classify, order, and understand the world, including one’s own identity.” (1995:13)

“… to obscure the real structure of society by replacing class with the distinction made by the consumption of particular goods. Thus instead of being identified by what they produce, people are made to identify themselves with what they consume. From this arises the false assumption that workers ‘with tow cars and a colour TV’ are not part of the working class. We are made to feel that we can rise and fall in society through what we are able to buy, and this obscures the actual class basis which still underlines social position, The fundamental differences in our society are still class differences, but use of manufactured goods as means of creating classes or groups forms an overlay on them. This overlay is ideology.” (1995:13)

“Material things that we need are made to represent other, non-material things we need; the point of exchange between the two is where the ‘meaning’ is created.” (1995: 14)

“The information that we are given is frequently untrue, and even when it is true, we are often being persuaded to buy products which are unnecessary; products manufactured at the cost of damaging the environment and sold to make a profit at the expense of the people who made them.” (1995:17)

“This shows very clearly what has been seen in all these ads: a selecting of certain elements, things or people from the ordinary world, and then rearranging and altering them in terms of a product’s myth to create a new world, the world of the advertisement. This is the essence of all advertising: components of ‘real’ life, and our life, our used to speak a new language.” (23)

“The technique of advertising is to correlate feelings, moods, or attributes to tangible objects, linking possible unattainable things with those that are attainable, and thus reassuring us that the former are within reach.” (31)

“…values exist not in things but in their transference.” (43)

“In other words, where the values are ideas, they are perpetuated by our constant ‘deciphering’ or ‘decoding’ of signs.” (43)

“We differentiate ourselves from other people by what we buy.” (46)

“… advertisements, create their own consumers, they tell you what you are like…” (51)

“By buying a Pepsi you take place in an exchange, not only for money but of yourself for a Pepsi Person. You have become special, yet one of a class; however, you do not meet these other, except in the advertisement.” (53)

“Advertisements enclose us more and more in a world that has to be interpreted: a world of significance. The very look of our urban surroundings takes us on a symbolic form: objects supplanted from their usual places in our physical lives, from the material context, take on new symbolic meanings on the hoardings and posters where they are no longer things but signs.” (71)

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