When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
Remembrance entails an imaginative renegotiation of the past within the ever-changing present. Often equated with a kind of deception, this imaginative renegotiation does not obstruct pure uncorrupted memory, but rather, it is through this activity that memory is possible. A valuable tool of remembrance, photography is prone to a similar discourse of evidence/deceit. Like memory, photographs have a connection to the past that is reconsidered with each viewing and bereavement can render this imaginative component of the photographic experience more conspicuous. A longing for cross-temporal, sustained connections, can prompt some individuals – the bereaved in particular – to form relationships with photographic portraits of otherwise inaccessible individuals. Lavished with special attention, cherished photographic objects capture more than a fleeting moment – they have the ability to speak across time. Reintegrating the likeness of absent individuals into the present, some photographic objects become so enmeshed in the activity of imaginative remembrance that their ability to participate is no longer dependant on the viewable object. Misplaced or intentionally avoided, these mementoes can take on what I call a hauntographic presence – retaining an affective charge that echoes the very phantoms they were meant to commemorate.
Using detailed visual and textual analysis, this dissertation examines various forms of embellishment that integrate the likeness of absent individuals into a common temporal frame with the bereaved. Introducing and developing the concept of hauntography, this project follows the imagination’s role in remembrance as it moves through the photographic medium.