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Gina Wall

Gina Wall is a practising photographer with an interest in writing, completing a practice-led PhD in photography and philosophy at the University of Dundee in April 2011. Her doctoral thesis, entitled Photographic Dissemination: iterations of difference in the text of landscape and photographic writing, investigates landscape and photography in relation to text, and in particular, Jacques Derrida's expanded field of writing. Photography is taken to be a generalised system of difference, a kind of writing rather than a mode of representation: photogrammatology. Her current research interests include landscape photography, performativity and identity in relation to landscape and the dialogical encounter. In addition, Gina leads the BA (Hons) Fine Art and Fine Art Textiles at Moray School of Art in Elgin, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands which is Scotland’s newest university.

Landscape and the practice(s) of inscription
The landscape is a palimpsest inscribed by social practices, overwritten through time. The bodily surface of the land bears the trace of an absent subject, as does the surface of a photograph. Landscape and photographs are bearers of cultural inscription, they are the surface upon which culture writes itself.

For me, the practice of photographing the landscape amounts to a re-inscription of this marked surface. Rewriting the land in photographs is preceded by reading the land: a particular way of looking. Reconfiguring the act of looking as a form of reading, and thinking the land as text, suggests an alternative to the idea of the landscape as a view, a picture of nature seen from a privileged viewpoint.

Photographic practice is seemingly over laden with the dynamics of viewing, but if we are to think of photography as an inscriptive practice, and the camera as a machine for writing, an entirely different dynamic emerges. The ties that bind landscape to the notion of picture are gently loosened.

The cultural practices which inscribe the land are legion, however I have chosen to work in relation to certain social spaces associated with work, leisure, and travel. The places that I have recently directed the camera towards are moorland, park, road. The loci of these cultural practices have become the place(s) of my photographic practice. Indeed, one cultural practice overwrites another, accreting the trace of a new activity.

Alongside photographing the land I have read and written around different accounts of vision and modified my darkroom working process to integrate photography and writing. This reflective/generative process has become a space between theory and practice, an example of Donald Schön’s ‘reflective practicum.’ And in this space I find that both the practice and the practitioner are also rewritten.

Writing the World: Photographing the Text of the Landscape (pdf)

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