Anna Lucas

Looking, looking away, looking again – The photographic still as an object on film

What perceptual transformations occur when the photographic image is (re-)looked at through another lens? How can physical manipulation of photographs on film evoke an embodied response in the viewer?


This practice led enquiry focuses on the physical characteristics of photographs as objects alongside their visual content, at a moment of image saturation, digital transformation and screen-based image consumption.

I am interested in the shared act of looking, performativity and gesture, the charisma of the photograph as an object in which layers of imagery, shared experience and time unfold, overlay and intersect. The work considers how inclusion and influence of others affects creative practice. Using the double ‘look’ at a photographic image through another lens as analogous to dialogue.

Using the camera as a research tool and filmic conventions to prompt physical interaction with diversely sourced photographs in studio and lab spaces I am exploring the material implications of the printed photograph in film aiming to focus attention on it’s ‘volume, opacity, tactility, and physical presence in the world’ (Batchen G1997 Photography’s objects).

This heuristic process allows for accidental events and playful uncertainties to confound our expectations of physical and virtual, abstraction and representation, stillness and movement in order to question the illusion of effortless digital image manipulation.
The work is situated within a context of artists moving image that considers structuralist, documentary and essay film as relevant. Through an investigation in film, photography, anthropology and material culture theory, this research will take into account contemporary philosophical debates around the nature of photographs, their ‘magic’, mutability, role in making meaning and inscribing the past, and their relationship to time and movement.

This research enquiry is significant and innovative in its use of the intangible nature of film to represent an embodied understanding of the photograph as a material object, reflexively establishing practical and theoretical agency for both mediums whilst challenging our cultural dependence on digital technologies.