manipulating the image as challenge

manipulation as a form of challenge: over the past week, i have continued to look into ‘making versus taking’ in photography  from a gendered perspective. in ‘A History of Women Photographers’ (2010) which i got my hands on recently, Rosenblum discusses the manipulation of image in women’s photography, particularly in the 80s and 90s. adding to established cutting, pasting, colouring and multiple printing manipulation, women photographers also explored new ways to manipulate images, using new techniques and formats to explore feminist themes of family, memory, identity and ecology etc. (p:276). since the postmodernism of the 1970s, manipulation of image was already well underway by male photographers as a rejection of modern values about beauty, harmony and balance etc. and disregarding the status of limited edition of single perfect prints. post modernists female photographers appropriated other artists’ images and created pastiches which included handwritten texts with feminist and political themes or created staged scenes and creating installations (p:277).

hand manipulation: Rosenblum discusses various processes used by female photographers to hand manipulate images – to various extents either subtle or obvious. one of the examples Rosenblum discusses in terms of non conventional and multiple formats is annette messager’s ‘My Vows’ (1990) which blurs divisions between the coherent and the ambiguous, 2d and 3d, chemical and graphically manipulated photographic images (p: 277). Rosenblum also discusses the return to outmoded techniques such as hand colouring images or adding crayon, paint or collage to the photographic printed image in the work of Judith Golden. she also discusses the return to the pinhole camera in the work of Ruth Thorne-Thomson as a method of unsettling classical landscapes with a sense of unease (p:277). other methods discussed include montage, xerography,  double exposure and the inclusion of ‘women’s crafts’ such as embroidery with the image. Rosenblum cites the work of Betty Hahn, Joan Lyons and Bea Nettles as examples of hand manipulation. with particular relevance to my work, Rosenblum discusses the montage work of Olivia Parker who combines negative and positive images and stencil cut outs to explore the world of reality, imaginary and dreams.

electronic manipulation:  female artists have also manipulated photographic images electronically, using computers to generate images of people and places that may not exists – adding complexity to the relationship between reality and the image. artists include Nancy Burson and Leah King-Smith’s double exposures.

further reading: further reading to be done in terms of manipulating the image by – setting the scene and manipulation prior to taking, manipulating the size of the image – taking on large scale format of commercial images, using sequential imagery rather than the single decisive moment or ‘essence’, as Eva Sonneman says – no single view of reality should be considered more truthful than any other, multiple images as a rejection of the revered image

to be continued ……



Rosenblum, N. (2010) A History of Women Photographers, 3rd Edition. New York: Abbeville Press.

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