Macquarie University
01whole.pdf (932.73 kB)

The appropriation of digital imagery by the historic photographic process

Download (932.73 kB)
posted on 2022-11-10, 23:45 authored by David Julian Opitz

This thesis explores the rationale, processes, and creative stimuli of a cohort of visual artists appropriating 21st century digital technology to fabricate photo crafted imaginary artefacts through the application of 19th century photographic process. My thesis will reconcile a creative component with a written exegesis to illustrate my exploration. In the thesis I summarise a brief history of the contested and overlapping debates opposing scientific objectivity and artistic subjectivity. I examine a variety of topics including materiality as an aesthetic construct, inspired memory, and nostalgia. I also refabricate early experimental photographic processes to explore certain technical and creative practices these artists employed to achieve their artistic objective. This replication and exploration of practice is a key research objective the creative component of my thesis. My inquiry investigates the motivations and sensibilities that inform the artists’ imaginative re-visioning of found and contrived imagery, and the functional relationship between the conceptual origins and their creative realisations. I seek to discover how and why these artists have fused together the infinite creative possibilities presented by the digital domain, with the innate imperfections of antiquated analogue photo/chemical process in both the conception and production of their artwork. My original interest in this question was piqued following a short course in Alternative Photographic practice I undertook at the Australian Centre of Photography in the early 2000s. Together, the research and creative components, will seek to locate and demonstrate this innovative convergence of the hand-made with the digitally fabricated, and how this process has been harnessed to produce imaginative representational artefacts of memory. My thesis focuses specifically on how material process and imagination interface with concepts of representation, and the capacity of digital technology to concoct and motivate meaning. By examining the economy of the exchange between historic Alternative Photographic processes and the seemingly limitless possibilities of digital technology, I develop an understanding of this contemporary artform and of the motivations and practical processes employed by a cohort of practicing visual artists.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Literature review -- Profile 1: Dan Estabrook -- Profile 2: Jill Enfield -- Profile 3: Robert Hirsch -- Conclusion -- References


Thesis submitted as partial requirement for the degree of Master of Research

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis (MRes), Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, 2022

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Communications, Creative Arts, Language, and Literature

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

John Potts


Copyright: David Julian Opitz Copyright disclaimer:




65 pages

Usage metrics

    Macquarie University Theses


    Ref. manager