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Image research

New realms of sensation and thought through the image
Our researchers are at the forefront of inventing original works that are inspirational and critically incisive. We explore questions of the body, gender, technology, perception, politics and historical narrative.

Artists and scholars working in image research at Sydney College of the Arts develop innovative relationships with materials and process to produce work that empowers meaning and critique.

Our researchers engage with the image across a broad range of practices including photography, painting, performance, print media, kinetic sculpture, media art and curation, to transform the quotidian understanding and function of an image.

Globally invested in contemporary art and the cultural sector and engaged in the emerging theoretical discourse surrounding their respective fields, our researchers are keenly attuned to the social impact and potential of images.

Blow Back

Dr Julie Rrap, Higher Degree Research Coordinator, Senior Lecturer, Visual Art

Female blowing cigarette smoke out of her mouth

Julie Rrap’s Blow Back (2018) documents the collective performance of 32 female artists exhaling with open mouths, in mockery of the endless images of women posed in this way suggesting their receptivity, as though they are vessels waiting to be filled. By etching the artists exhaled breath into the glass covering the images, Rrap materialises the political power and agency of women's breath, evoking philosopher Luce Irigaray’s idea that breath represents a sharing of the space between ourselves and (an)other. Using photography, video, sculpture and installation, Julie Rrap’s practice focuses on the body as a performative tool that challenges its representation across history. Blow Back was exhibited at Roslyn Oxley Gallery.

Surface Deep

Rebecca Beardmore, Lecturer, Visual Art

Landscape artwork on two white walls in an art gallery

Surface Deep (2018), is a series of works that demonstrate Rebecca Beardmore's interest in disrupting the image as an object of representation and evoking tensions between reading, seeing and perception. Through an innovative and experimental approach to materials and techniques, Beardmore seeks to expand the rhetoric around image perception. By blending photography, machine and hand printmaking, barely legible text, landscapes and other media onto highly reflective "mylar rendering", the ability to perceive a recognisable image in the series is destabilised, causing a relational experience between the viewer and image.

Redback Graphix and its Aftermath

Stuart Bailey, Lecturer, Visual Art

Two people looking at artworks in an art gallery

Co-curated by SCA researcher Stuart Bailey and Wendy Murray, Fresh blood: Redback Graphix and its Aftermath was an exhibition at Casula Powerhouse in 2018 that examined the legacy of Australian political poster collective Redback Graphix. These posters were plastered across city walls in the 1970s and ’80s and provided a model of political engagement that has inspired Australian artists and activists. The exhibition became a platform for the curators to explore the continuing relevance of the political poster in Australian art and media by contextualising the posters of Redback Graphix in dialogue with contemporary works by artists Mini Graff, ZAP!, Blak Douglas, Alex Latham, PITS and CAMO.

Mama Ocllo

Dr Madeleine Kelly, Lecturer, Visual Arts

Woman looking at colourful disks on the wall

Mama Ocllo (2018) transforms painting into an immersive spacio-temporal and sonic field. Drawing from the work of James Clerk Maxwell, who employed spinning disks to explore the differences in mixing light and mixing pigments, the work engages with fundamental issues of colour perception that bring aesthetics into the scientific fields of optics and physiology. In Incan mythology, Mama Ocllo taught women the art of spinning thread. In this work, light is a metaphoric thread of vibrant transitions reflected from spinning different parts of the coloured spectrum, yet the constant droning sound suggests humanity’s low blow on natural systems. The work was exhibited at Milani Gallery in 2019.

Blood on the Wattle

Janelle Evans, Associate Lecturer

Drawing of a circle with a red line through it

Blood on the Wattle (2019) employs the Surrealists’ drawing technique of frottage to lift textures from the physical world as a means to bypass the rational mind and tap into the subconscious realm. The drawing forms part of an ongoing series exploring memory sites within the Sydney environs where the interplay of history, feelings and memory have coalesced in certain locations to create multi-layered personal and collective myths and narratives. The drawings will be exhibited at Ddessin 19 International Art Fair, Atelier Richelieu, Paris, 29-31 March 2019.