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The performance of the print

Moseley, Peter

The performance of the print Thumbnail


Peter Moseley


The physical presence of contemporary photographs – whether as magazine, hoarding, wet chemistry, museum displays, inkjet prints or on-screen displays – is subordinate to the content of the image. However, resurgence of interest in the autographic opportunities of nineteenth century contact-printing processes has drawn attention to the material attributes secured through the varied ‘performance’ of the print and its affective potential.

This is a practice-led and practice-based project that explores the aesthetic saliency of the texture, tactility, reproductive qualities and materialities offered by selected ‘early’ photographic processes: albumen, carbon-transfer, cyanotype, photogravure, platinum/palladium and salt printing. The project has a triple focus. In the context of discourse on the language, syntax and automaticity of photography, it explores aesthetic impressions of materiality through vernacular descriptions of early processes prints. The lexicon offered by volunteer participants provides rich, imaginative, even ‘thick’ descriptions, that evidence nuanced awareness of, and response to, the physicality of photographic works. It is inferred that materiality colours, literally and metaphorically, the reading and affective impression of the work.

Changes in the commercial availability of resources required for early-process printing has encouraged the use of contemporary technologies for the production of inkjet printed negatives and the use of digital image capture and manipulation software. The second, practice-led, strand of this research investigates ways in which digital techniques may be adapted to provide enhanced authorial control over image qualities, using selected ultraviolet sources in combination with colourisations of inkjet negatives.

Within the context of discourse on the skin and the body, the third, practice-based, phase of the research is the production and exhibition of prints that respond to the vernacular lexicon of materialities and exploit the aesthetic potentialities of early processes. The works seek, through the ‘skin of the print’ to interrogate the skin and the body of the project’s, mainly older, subjects.


Moseley, P. The performance of the print. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Publicly Available Date Jun 7, 2019
Keywords print, photographs
Public URL
Award Date Nov 1, 2016


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