On posing: notes on imageness

Wehner, Klaus. 2012. On posing: notes on imageness. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The overarching theme is an investigation of the concept of imageness and ultimately its relationship to the body or the corpo-real. The text establishes its specific notion of imageness and of the posed object by comparing the perceived imageness of the photographic image and of exhibited objects. Comparing the artifice inherent in both the curatorial and the photographic composition, employing aspects of museology, leads to a re- visiting of some basics of photography theory, resulting in criticism of the field, which is dominated by non-practising art historians, from my point of view as an active photographer/artist. The concept of ‘indexicality’ is criticised; in a revised form, as the ‘real index’, its relationship to the body is examined. This leads to the transposition of Roland Barthes’ punctum to posed objects in museums with a real indexical link to the body.
My visual work (www.museumclausum.org) consists of photographs taken in museum spaces, making deliberate use of lens-specific visual artifice, drawing attention to the artifice of the photograph itself. I also produced some museum- style installations, where exhibition labelling conferred real indexical links to absent/dead bodies on the objects.
The claim that Barthes’ punctum is a pointer to the body remains central as it is applied to the idea of imageness rather than the photographic image. This is corroborated by a critical re-reading of Camera Lucida and subsequently applied to an examination of Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. This is followed by a further look at exhibition culture with a focus on the differentiation between ‘art’ and ‘artefact’ and observations around the exhibition of human remains. In conclusion, it is observed how the imageness of posed objects reflects on and becomes part of the imageness of the posing subject as a labour that ultimately camouflages human corpo-reality.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Additional Information:

Certain images in this thesis have been redacted due to copyright restrictions


Imageness, Posed Object, Corpo-reality / Body, Punctum, Lacanian Real, Indexicality, ‘Real Index’, Trace, Museum Display of Human Remains, Photographic Composition, Curatorial Composition, Museum Photography, Museum Display, Museology, Photography Theory, Rosalind Krauss, Readymade, Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, Jean Baudrillard, The System of Objects, Thomas Mann, Death in Venice, Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

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16 January 2012

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Date Deposited:

03 May 2013 12:43

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:51



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