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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Delineating Slowly: Developing a Socially Engaged Photography Practice to Respond to Visual Representations of Blackburn, Lancashire, UK

(2022) Delineating Slowly: Developing a Socially Engaged Photography Practice to Respond to Visual Representations of Blackburn, Lancashire, UK. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


Motivated by images of the town of Blackburn (Lancashire, United Kingdom) drawn from television and newspapers, the research is a long-form photographic enquiry that contributes to knowledge in the area of socially engaged photography and slow. Research activities explore the potential of a Blackburn-based socially engaged slow photography practice to generate alternative narratives to media images and narratives (2006-2019) that depict and describe the town as an intersection for cultural issues such as anti-social behaviour. Literature and practice relevant to the research questions and aims are appraised through a contextual review, whilst the impact of the review upon the research trajectory is stated within the written thesis (Chapter 2). Histories, theories and approaches critical to the research enquiry - specifically those relating to socially engaged photography and slow – are located, reviewed and appropriated through the contextual review, in order to situate the research methodology within photography practice.
Established approaches for socially engaged photography are synthesised, aiding the development of photographic strategies that are applied during the enquiry: research experiments include photography as autoethnography, slow-walking and photography, participatory photography and photography informed by the voice of others. The global paradigm of slow provides the research with a specific philosophical identity, influencing the emphasis on place-specific (Blackburn), self-reflective and iterative approaches to photography practice. Influenced by established approaches for socially engaged photography, participation is a defining feature of a practice developed, then applied, in Blackburn.
The research was undertaken through two phases of experimentation. During Phase 1 (Chapter 3) the researcher utilises the practice of autoethnography and the principles of slow to establish a photography practice centred on exploring lived experiences set within Blackburn’s contemporary
landscape. The approaches utilised during this phase highlight the researcher’s experiences as someone who was born and lived in Blackburn, a Blackburner, through photography and reflective writing. The approach to photography during Phase 2 focussed on developing the methodology, realising more refined and confident bodies of photography (Chapter 4). Phase 2 centres upon the development of participatory experiments with co-researchers and local (Blackburn) residents, locating and embedding the voice of others in the design and conduct of the photography. In this latter phase, the principles of slow influence a range of activities, dialogues and approaches from slow-walking, dialectical conversations and re-photography. The socially engaged slow photography practice developed during the enquiry is represented through eight photography experiments; Expanding the Photographic Interval; The Double Parallax; The Tourist Gaze; Wiki:Blackburn; SelfScapes; Participatory Portrait Photography; Slow Walk; Revisiting the Delineation. The photographic outcomes of the research reveal new and alternatives narratives, through which Blackburn can be visualised and understood, in contrast to the limited scope of Blackburn’s recent portrayal in televisual and journalistic media.
The research methodology was further tested by presenting research outcomes in eleven academic conferences, exhibitions, festivals and public events, locally and nationally. The outcomes generated from the enquiry form part of a number of recent local responses - arts festivals, public talks, photography exhibitions and conferences - initiated by community interest groups and local stakeholders, that respond to Blackburn’s recent media portrayal. The products of the research enquiry are the thesis, the photography portfolio and the blog. The thesis is an extensive critical commentary describing the research context, aims and methods, an appraisal of the research outcomes and the contribution it makes to the fields of socially engaged photography practice and slow. The photography portfolio contains one hundred photographs, drawn from the range of photography generated during the practice-based experimentation. The images presented in the portfolio exemplify the visual strategies employed during the research activities and includes examples of the photography presented.

J P Harrison UoS PhD Thesis Part I Delineating Slowly August 2022.pdf
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

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Item ID: 15449

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Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2022 12:50
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2023 10:01


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