Writing the world: photographing the text of the landscape


  • Gina Wall




I am engaged in a practice led thesis, which has been challenged and shaped by thinkers in the fields of critical theory and philosophy. Although I work in dialogue with these theorists, I am principally a visual practitioner who is most at home with traditional, wet process photography.

I began with a general concern regarding my own resistance to landscape photography as the depiction of the view, which has led me to question the persistence of the (illusion of) the unified photographic moment. My visual process, which began quite simply as a reaction against the pervasiveness of the view in photography, has, in dialogue with writers such as Ferdinand de Saussure, Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida and Rosalind Krauss, enabled me to theorise my own photographic practice as a form of writing. Central to this has been the investigation of different theoretical configurations of the semiotic sign.

I contend that Rosalind Krauss’ conception of Surrealist photography as a practice of écriture, in fact accounts for photographic practice more broadly speaking. The spacing of the photographic sign, which Krauss describes as an ‘invagination of presence,’ defers the confluence of the signified and the signifier thus rupturing the illusion of presence in the photographic moment: the shutter differences the image from the world and the practice of photography reconfigures the world as a form of writing. However, not simply in the sense of a surface inscribed by light, but writing as a space in which the possibility for meaning is realised.