• Relations to / established attachments to the objects we interact with… How do these affect/define us?
  • To take photos that invite a reflection on the traces we leave behind after use of an object.

Attachments – what are they? 


“The Ties That Bind: Measuring the strength of Consumers’ Emotional Attachments to Brands (2015) By Mathew Thompson, Deborah J. MacInnis & C. Whan Park. Volume 15 (1) pp 77-91”

"According to Bowlby, an attachment is an emotion - laden target-specific bond between a person and a specific object." :77-78

"The objects to which consumers are emotionally attached, however, are few in nuMbers and are generally regarded as profound and significant (cf. Ball & Taski, 1992; Richins, 1994a)" :78-79

This source will provide me with some background knowledge into attachments, enabling me to fully understand its definition in order to outline and prove/disprove evidence of individual attachments to our vehicles. An initial starting point to build upon and explore in further depth.

Particular focus on how vehicles inspired by personal experiences – outlines proof of attachments…

  • Links with anthropomorphism and personification of cars
  • Attachments analysed etc / results

“Survey Reveals Relationships with cars Mimic Relationships with people by AutoTrader” (4 June 2013)”

"According to the survey, consumers tend to personfiy their cars to the point that the relationships with them mirrors relationships with living beings in their lives." 

"More than 70 percent of respondents feel "very attached" or "somewhat attached" to their cars, with 36 percent describing their vehicle as an "old friend" and more than a quarter saying they feel sad when they think about parting ways with it."

This texts will allow me to prove my hypothesis and justify my photographic exploration into attachments and relationships we establish without vehicles. For me, this is a crucial text because it offers a more official viewpoint that fits with greater relevance in my project.

Why? What fuels these attachments?

“For the love of Cars by Rudi Volti. The Journal of Transport History (September, 2007) pp: 294-296”

  • Explores the anthropomorphism / personification of cars and the roles of cars as a cultural signifier of consumerism and mobility, enablers of modern lifestyle
"[Cars]... become key components of an emerging consumer culture. Each brought mobility, one geographical and the other visual, to what Henry Ford called ' the great Multitude'." :294
  • Investigated anthropomorphic cars, illustrated with example’s – “Cars” Film
"To give them a more human visage the animators eschewed the standard use of headlights as the location of the vehicles' eyes. Instead, eyes appear behind windshields, alloweing a greater range of expressiveness." :294

"This follows a long-standing movie convention, where cars bring motability and freedom, and only occasionally are treated as sources of individal or collective trouble." :295

"...most of us see our cars as essential embalems of a modern lifestyle." :295

This text explores ideas around anthropomorphism, helping me to investigate a potential reason why we establish such bonds with our inanimate objects; with the text making reference to vehicles as enablers of ‘consumer culture’ and ’emblems of modern lifestyle’. I wish to explore this in greater depth within my academic research.

Artist Influence / Photographic Technique

Stephen Wilkes

  • “Day and Night and “Ellis Island”; Documents and illustrates a journey/passing of time within a single image
  • Explores temporal photography > displayed and presented in a highly aesthetic style with rich depth and colour, composition is enticing and inviting > lines, symmetry, lead-ins/outs

This artist was a substantial influence on my project, his photographic style explores the passing of time, his images offer a wide investigation into the documentation of change. With particular focus, the images that depict the aged and worn but are presented in a highly aestetic and oversaturated style.

Lee Friedlander

  • “America by Car” Photographs different stages/locations of America using the vehicle as a framing device
  • Stylized, aesthetic presentation, focusing on b/w and vast tonal contrasts

Commercial Photographers…

Daniel Stein

  • “Autophotobia” describes/investigates automotive design within the creation of geometry; draws on emotions such as nostalgia and appreciation of modern design (reflection of time?)
  • Photographs sections of classic vehicles in a highly aesthetic style > nostalgia
  • Small segments allow for intense reflection and design > vehicles are photographs as objects of visual consumption – clean, perfect, shiny, stylised

Rebecca Evans 

  • Close up shots/sections of vintage cars, shiny, polished appearance; images shot in colour

Provided some initial context around commercial vehicle photography that enabled me to explore and outline the differences between the artistic and commercial photographs but also inspired me to explore ideas around images of cars for the purpose of physical consumption. Commercial images appear highly aesthetic and stylised almost to the degree that borders on the theme of surrealism.  I aim to explore this in greater depth, aspiring to investigate whether this surrealist-fetish like presentation is linked with our established relationships with personal vehicles.

Initial discourses / Themes

Fetishism (Consumerism/Commercial)

  • Still life text from the reader (p.125)
"We are offered the inside or underside, as well as the outer view. Cheeses are cut into. Pies spill out their fillings [...] objects are exposed to the probing eye not only by the technique of flaying them, but also by reflection: the play of life on the surface distinguishes glass from metal, from cloth from pastry and also serves to multiply surfaces" 

"New devices for looking attentively in the world..."

"She emphasised the attention to the surfaces of things, the material world yeilding itslef to the viewer..." 

"...Material things such as ciphers or symbols for longer moral messages."

Surrealist Photography Text

  • Estrangement; “The way banal everyday things could suddenly seem strange, disturbingly unfamiliar or outlandish.”
  • Uncanny resemblances? Textures, photographs of objects that focus of detailed sections recreating images.
  • Possibly look at texts such as…

“Prosthetic Culture: Photography, Memory and Identity”

“The Haunted Self: Surrealism, Psychoanalysis, Subjectivity”

“Michael Young: “The Estranged Object” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G06ZTaKG_I


  • consider contexts and age of texts analysed

Compulsive Beauty by Hal Foster

“I believe this concept to be the uncanny, that is to say, a concern with events in which repressed material returns in ways that disrupt unitary identity, aesthetic norms, and social order. In my argument, the surrealists are not only drawn to the return of the repressed but also seek to redirect this return to critical ends.” :xvii

“This basis of surrealist connections between symbols, beauty and hysteria, critical interpretations and paranoid projections.” :xviii

“As is well-known, the uncanny for Freud involves the return of a familiar phenomenon (image or object, person or event) made strange by repression. This return of the repressed renders the subject anxious and the phenomenon ambiguous, and this anxious ambiguity produces the primary effects of the uncanny: (1) an indistinction between the real and the imagined, which is the basic aim of surrealism as defined in both manifestos of Breton; (2) a confusion between the animate and the inanimate, as exemplified in the surrealist repertoire; and (3) a usurpation of the referent by the sign or of physical reality by psychic reality, and here again the surreal is often experienced, especially by Breton and Dali, as an eclipse of the referential by the symbolic; or as an enthrallment of a subject to a sign or a symptom, and its effect is often that of the uncanny: anxiety.” :7

“Freud traces the estrangement of the familiar that is essential to the uncanny in the very etymology of German term: unheimlich (uncanny) derives from heimlich (homelike), to which several senses of the world return.” :7

“For this category of the veiled-erotic Breton offers these images: a limestone deposit shaped like an egg; a quartz wall formed like a sculpted mantle; a rubber object and a mandrake root that resemble statuettes…” [Automatist creation] :23

“All are instances of natural mimicry, which relates them to other phenomena prized by surrealists…” :23

“…the veiled-erotic is uncanny primarily in its in/animation, for this suggests the priority of death, the primordial condition to which life is recalled” :25

Does this link to my idea around the use and degradation of objects and human traces?

“The fixed explosive, the second category of convulsive beauty, is uncanny primarily in its im/mobility, for this suggests the authority of death, the dominant conservatism of the drives.” :25

“…the fixed-explosive involves an “expiration of motion” (AF 10), and Breton provides two examples. The first is only described: a “photograph of a speeding locomotive abandoned for years to the delirium of a virgin forest” (AF 10). The second is only illustrated: a Man Ray photograph of a tango dancer caught, body and dress ablur, in midtwirl. In the first image, which deepens the ambiguous role of nature in convulsive beauty, an old train engine lies engulfed in a bed of vines. Nature here is vital yet inertial: it grows but only, in the guise of death, to devour the progress of the train, or the progress that it once emblemised.” :25″


John w. griggs

“This violent arrest of the vital, this sudden suspension of the animate, speaks not only of the sadomasochistic basis of sexuality posed by the death drive theory, but also of the photographic principle that informs so much surrealist practice . This suggests that convulsive beauty must also be though in terms of photographic shock…” :26

“Automatically as it were, photography produces both the veiled-erotic, nature configured as a sign, and the fixed-explosive, nature arrested in motion…” :27

“The veiled-erotic, or reality convulsed into a writing, is a photographic effect, but fundamentally it concerns an uncanny trace of a prior state, i.e., of the compulsion to return to an inanimate condition: the death of limestone, quartz, crystal.” :28

Digital Dirt and the Entropic Artifact: Exploring Damage in Visual Media by Junian Kiker


“Photographic content has long visualized the passage of time using, for example, long exposures and high-speed stroboscopic flashes.” :51

“Perspectives on damage to human artifacts have typically fallen into two major categories: That of the ideal pristine artifact, in which damage is problematic and to be avoided or repaired; and that of the entropic artifact, in which damage acknowledges mortality, temporality, and serendipity. These two perspectives represent very different notions about damage, and fields such as architecture, library preservation, and museum curation have grappled with them in planning how to manage artifacts under their care.” :52

“Signs of age and decay in artifacts have value when they signify authenticity and preserve the historical integrity of the object (Lowenthal, 1994). ” :52

“In visual media, explorations of the entropic artifact—one that reveals its interactions with time—are seen most clearly in artistic works..” :52

“While documentary images of decay suggest that damage offers profound aesthetic potential, it is the objects recorded in the medium that are decaying, rather than the medium itself that is recording its own decay. Viewers observe the reproduced decay from a secure distance rather than through a damaged visual medium itself. Thus, these examples of recorded decay are essentially documentary, albeit of unusual and poignant subjects, while minimizing the more complex questions of age, care, and intention that would be suggested by experiencing decay within the medium itself.” :53

“Damage can provide clues to the conditions under which the visual artifact was created, handled, and stored—in other words, the quality of the life it has experienced.”


AutoTrader (2013) Survey Reveals Relationships with Cars Mimic Relationships With People. Autotrader [Online] 4 January. Available from: http://press.autotrader.com/2013-06-04-Survey-Reveals-Relationships-with-Cars-Mimic-Relationships-with-People/ [Accessed 29 October 2016]

Evans, R. (2016) Rebecca Evans Photography. Available from:   http://www.rebeccaevansphotography.com/ [Accessed 11 October 2016]

Fraenkel Gallery (2016) Lee Friedlander America By Car. Available from:  https://fraenkelgallery.com/portfolios/america-by-car  [Accessed 11 October 2016]

Foster, H. (1993) Compulsive Beauty (1st ed.) London: MIT Press

Griggs, J. (2016) A Brief Biography of John W. G. Riggs. Available from: http://www.entropicremnants.com/bioinfo.aspx/ [Accessed 12 October 2016]

 Kim, E. (2016) 10 Lessons Lee Friedlander Has Taught Me About Street Photography. Available from: http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2013/03/29/10-lessons-lee-friedlander-has-taught-me-about-street-photography/ [Accessed 11 October 2016]

Kilker, J. (2009) Digital Dirt and the Entropic Artifact: Explaining Damage in Visual Media. Visual Communication Quarterly [Online] Volume 16 (1) pp.50-63 [Accessed 30 October 2016 2016]

Lury, C. (1997) Prosthetic Culture: Photography, Memory and Identity (1st ed.) London: Routledge

Lomas, D. (2000) The Haunted Self: Surrealism, Psychonalysis Subjectivity (1st ed.) London: Yale University Press

Stein, D. (2016) Daniel Stien Photography: Autophotopia. Available from: http://www.steinphoto.net/portfolios/autophotopia/  [Accessed 11 October 2016]

Syracuse Architecture (Syracuse University School of Architecture) (2014) Micheal Young: “The Estranged Object”. YouTube [Video] 12 March. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G06ZTaKG_I/  [Accessed 10 October 2016]

The Museum of Modern Art (2016) Lee Friedlander. Available from: http://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/113?locale=en [Accessed 11 October 2016]

Thompson, M. (2005) The Ties That Bind: Measuring the Strength of Consumers’ Emotional Attachments to Brands. Journal of Consumer Psychology [Online] Volume 15 (1) pp.71-91 [Accessed 29 October 2016]

Volti, R. (2007) For the love of Cars. The Journal of Transport History [Online] Volume 28 (2) pp.294-296 [Accessed 29 October 2016]

Wilkes, S. (2016) Fine Art. Available from: http://www.stephenwilkes.com/ [Accessed 29 October 2016]

Zhao, F. (2015) Parifictional Object. Available from: http://www.feifeizhao.com/parifictional-object  [Accessed 12 October 2016]