Studies on a clepsydra

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Valokuvataiteen maisteriohjelma
Studies on a Clepsydra explores the fluid and transient behaviour of photography, looking at it as a process framed by chance and fluid trace-making. It highlights the ever-changing quality of photographs and questions fixation as a photographic requisite. As a means of resistance to the current overflow of images, Studies on a Clepsydra investigates the production of photographic objects. By renouncing permanence, the resulting latent objects participate in a dialogue between chance, time and place, bringing into question perception itself. Clepsydra is a Greek term meaning ‘water-thief’ that encompasses most timekeeping devices operating by means of the flow of a liquid substance. By exploring the overlappings between water clocks and photography, the thesis unfolds into three material experimentations that instrumentalise cyanotypes as clepsydrae, titled: Waterfall, Clepsydrae and Witness. The theoretical implications of these practices are contextualised in the first part of the thesis, briefly reflecting on the concepts of: Liquidity, Ephemerality, Liquid Intelligence and Opacity. Studies on a Clepsydra treats photographs as bodies that bear a particular relationship with time. As can be observed in the current conditions in which we find The Niépce Heliograph made in 1827, the study argues that photographs should not be conceived as permanent. Rather, fixing them resists the inherent character of the photographic apparatus. This is exemplified not only by the chemical processing of images, but the institutional efforts employed as to preserve images, resisting their natural tendency to age and decay. Embracing transformation, the thesis acknowledges control and permanence as futile and purposely integrates their negations in the process of making. Thus, Studies on a Clepsydra incorporates –instead– chance and transformation as key elements towards a contemporary reading of both photography and perception.
Luoma, Niko
Thesis advisor
Zohar, Ayelet
expanded photography, fluidity, ephemeral, temporal, cyanotype, clepsydra, opacity, liquidity