Rethinking [Photographic] Materiality: Workshop

27 & 28 February 2020

Rethinking [Photographic] Materiality was a two-day hands-on workshop collaboratively organised and facilitated by Crystal Bennes, artist and -based PhD researcher at Northumbria University and Melanie King, artist and practice-based PhD researcher at Royal College of Art, London.

The workshop explored ideas surrounding the materiality of image making, with a particular focus on analogue photographic processes. An increased awareness of the ethics of materials and of material ecologies in practice here, specifically analogue photographic practice has contributed to increased scrutiny of the processes and tools of image making. Such scrutiny has consequently led to a desire to invent and explore new processes which are more sensitive to the environment.

Through artist presentations and hands on workshops, this two day event sought to explore and further understand what happens when artists reflect critically on the ethics of their material practices and how such reflections can be utilised in the context of practice based research.

Rethinking [Materiality] proposed:

  • three participatory workshops developing black and white film using coffee, exposing prints using plant based dyes and sunlight and creating abstract photographic images with household items
  • an introduction to more sustainable and environmentally friendly processes for analogue photography by Crystal Bennes and Melanie King
  • a presentation from artist and practice based PhD researcher Rowan Lear examining the physical materials of photography from critical, cultural and creative perspectives
  • a participant presentation session to share relevant methods and works in progress

The training was primarily addressed to visual artists at Northumbria and Sunderland who are already working with or interested in analogue photography, but it was also useful for visual artists working in other media as a catalyst to encourage and develop reflection on questions of ethics, materiality and sustainability in their own processes.

The event has been funded by Northumbria Sunderland AHRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Art and Design. With thanks to Andrea Philips at BxNU Experimental Studio.

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