Civic Melancholy: An Investigation into the Notion of Melancholy in the Photograph, Focusing on the Urban Landscape in an Australian Regional Context

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

Civic Melancholy is a practice-led project consisting of a 70% creative practice component and a 30% exegesis component. The body of creative work consists of large-scale urban landscape photographs, which investigate the nexus between our impact on our environment and the subsequent sadness elicited from visual depictions of that impact. The exegesis component contextualises the body of creative work and explores the critical theory underpinning it.

This research focuses on the premise that photographs can have an inherent melancholic quality, and that this is driven by the contextual relationship between the representation, and subsequent interpretation of an image''s content. The creative work explores this concept with particular reference to urban landscape in regional Australia, and employs strategies to elicit a sense of the melancholy, rather than the traditional landscape''s more customary mood of sentimentality.

My research finds difference in the way it mediates the experience of place through the creative discipline of photography, and centres on the built, or at least pre-habited environment. The human presence in these domains is represented at a partway point in their effect on the greater natural environment. My work stems from a regional arts practice that challenges the provincial rhetoric that is so often aimed at the people of regional Australia.

I will be arguing that my creative imagery blends the urban landscape with social documentary photography by archiving a cultural and social record, resulting in a kind of social landscape that can provoke contemplation and reflection. It attempts to provide a meditative antidote to the impact of the speed of technology on our culture and environment. Discarding the geographically parochial, this project explores our impact on, and sometimes our apparent denial of the life cycle of a diversity of regional Australian locations, ultimately acting as a point of reference between our urban ''civic" environment and our collective behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Overton, Neill, Principal Supervisor
Award date06 Nov 2015
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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