Mulhearn, Richard (2017) ‘A home we don’t recognize as ours’ Home and the Subjective State. In: Visualising the Home, 13-14 July 2017, University of Cumbria. (Unpublished)

The investigation of the unreadable gesture and the relationship to the conventions of photographic representation forms the basis of this paper.

Rather than home being a geographical location or a familial or cultural grouping, a more essential, foundational notion of belonging is created and maintained through repetition, convention and thus, familiarity. Through the establishment of routine behaviour, the practice of everyday life helps to create and maintain subjectivities through consensus, that comply with the dominant social order. It is proposed however, that periodically the sovereign-self shifts outside these conventions, which can be seen when gesture becomes unreadable; while this gesture can be photographed, the resulting image as a consequence holds a deliberate ambiguity that can be used to celebrate this unknowable part of human behaviour.

Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s important concept of ‘Habitus’ (1984), this paper will explore notions of the subjective state as home, of desires to locate our social and individual behaviour inside a set of practices which advocate conditions of belonging. There is a direct relationship of the photograph in regards to the temporal, iconic and the indexical, and the experience and readings of the everyday, as both share a fallibility (inadequacy) of proposing definite readings.

The images utilise the visual strategies of editorial photography, specifically in terms of narrative, initially appearing in the tradition of the readable sequence and the resolved image. The photographs are scenarios in which the person and their purpose in the place of the image are at odds, this is disrupted further by the incongruous gesture/action, which through composition, framing and the selection of the moment all combine to render the image unreadable, and via the sequencing of multiple images subsequently celebrate the vital force of the unknowable/ unreadable in social/political evolution.

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