Installation view, Elam school of fine arts, 2016.

Installation view, Elam school of fine arts, 2016.


This project is an investigation into perception and illusion through the use of photography and its framing. It takes its cue from several key philosophical concepts including Peirce’s semiotic values and his typology of signs ‘icon, index and symbol’, Baudrillard’s simulacrum and Benjamin’s essays on aura and the image. This work explores the potential relationships between the image and the object and how they might determine the conditions between themselves and the viewer.


The work titled Untitled, signed. Titled, unsigned. Object, has developed from a painting obtained at a school gala.[1] This painting depicts a forest scene, a romantic, auratic, and aesthetic appreciation of nature. It lacks a clear horizon, resulting in an unease or imbalance. It draws our gaze deep into the painting, an illusionistic space firmly situated in the world of painting. This unease is perhaps further enhanced through manipulations of the viewing plane and the disruptions of the sense of frontality, this allows us to move between the illusionistic worlds of painting and photography and the physical object.


The reproduction and manipulation of the image/symbol alters its function. An estrangement of the usual conventions offers new abstract potential in the work, divesting it of its usual meanings and opening up new possibilities. Langer and Massumi’s [2] notions on semblance have also informed this body of work. When we see an image or an object we see more than just what is visually in front of us. An image can convey movement through the use of line and we can then think of a static image as being in motion. The same is true for the object, when we see an object from only one side we are still able to conceive of its volume.

In all three works the original object is absent, the reproduced simulacra is authenticated with a new value.


[1]“Hillsborough painter Jean Boulton learnt her skills at Kelston night school. She has exhibited with the New Zealand fellowship of artists for the past six years. Mrs Boulton specializes in landscape in watercolour and oils.”

Western Leader 22.8.1974, Auckland Library research center.

[2] Massumi, Brian. Semblance and Event Activist Philosophy and the Occurrent Arts. Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press ©2011, 2011. Print.