Studio Photo 04: The Encountered Sign

Studio brief

The boundaries between applied commissioned photography and documentary or fine art practice continue to break down. New, fresh and more progressive commercial photography agents such as We Folk, East, Wyatt Clarke + Jones and Art + Commerce, increasingly work with photographers and artists whose practice is equally at home in the gallery as it is in the applied sector.

This studio builds on the ideas of affect and the encountered sign developed by Gilles Deleuze. The word sign here refers to the images you will create. The Encountered Sign is a sign that is felt rather than recognised or perceived through cognition. Sensation is not "an end in itself" but acts as "a catalyst for critical inquiry or deep thought", allowing affect or emotion to be an "effective trigger for profound thought because of the way in which it grasps us, forcing us to engage involuntarily." (Bennet, 2005 p7).

You will study aesthetic concepts such as beauty, the sublime, the abject, and deadpan and the mundane as well as considering their political and at times contentious nature. It will enable you to develop a project informed by your personal interests. You will explore using these to create affective imagery that critically addresses subjects, stories, ideas, concepts or issues that you will identify from your own interests or personal experience.

You will also develop your knowledge and understanding of how such work has value for a range of specialist audiences. You will explore contexts including publication, artist residencies, curatorial commissions and exhibition, alongside application within the commissioned editorial, advertising and design sectors as well as other markets such as photo libraries and stock photography.

You will develop a critical and rigorous making methodology including a range of practices from practical experimentation and reflection to investigation of creative practitioners, collaborations and the critical conversations that surround your area of interest.


Photo credit: James Russell Cant, Aoi Dori (2011) from the E Hagaki series

Urban landscape with multiple signs


Course Photography BA (Hons)
Fine Art BA (Hons)
Tutors James Russell Cant
Ania Dabrowska
Where Calcutta House
Small Annex, CA3-04
When Monday 10 am - 5 pm, Thursday 10 am - 5 pm

Fine Art


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