I passed my PhD Upgrade last week and after a very nervous build up, was very pleased with how it went.  The examiners endorsed my research to date, my articulation of that research and the journey through ontology, epistemology, methodology and methods through to practice.  The Upgrade was followed by a meeting with my supervisors to reflect and discuss the issues, ideas and questions raised.  It has taken a while for me to recover and reflect on an exciting week in my PhD journey but here is a summary, an aide memoire for me, of those discussions.

Examiner 1

  • Experimentation is much more evident in the photographic work I had done as part of my PhD compared with the Final Major Project of the MA Photography.
  • Had Heidegger (Dasein) been a major influence prior to my PhD and what were my reasons for moving from phenomenology to OOO?
  • How is OOO different from Subject-Oriented Ontology?  I should make a stronger argument for this.
  • Can we ever escape subjectivity?
  • Great diagrams and methods.
  • Noted an anthropomorphic quality to my work.
  • I should consider earlier photographic practice including Minor White, Ansel Adams, Thomas Joshua Cooper (earlier work) and those contributing to Aperture in the 1950s – the idea of being receptive without a purpose and the zone system manual.

Examiner 2

  • Impressed with my presentation and enjoyed the integration of the blog in my practice.
  • I had partially changed his opinion of OOO.  He praised the move to Object-Oriented Photography and the fact that my practice manifests that an aesthetic practice can grow from OOO, which he had hitherto thought impossible.
  • Does holding onto my idea of essence do justice to my practice and approach?  While my practice shatters stereotypes, holding onto the word ‘essence’ might return my research to Kantian stereotyping.  My work possibilises rather than essentialises and using the term essence or hidden or beyond carries unnecessary philosophical baggage (such as Plato’s ‘third man’ problem and problems of misplaced concreteness)There is more to my practice than this is capable of doing justice to.  Rather than showing the essence of Skye as something ‘hidden’ behind the images I present a way of framing and discussing them which allows important connections to emerge – thus the essence is not behind but rather alongside in the growing and iterative approach of my photographic practice.  I therefore possibilise Skye by revealing it to be something replete with connections and potentials, rather than essentialising it as something hidden behind (this being more consistent with Derrida than Harman).
  • He warned not to underestimate the strength of my practice which challenges the philosophical framework of OOO and opens up a cluster of different approaches relating to phenomena.
  • The presentation of my work through exhibitions and my blog should provide the means to confirm and distinguish between OOO and SOO and showcase my research.  The emotigram might provide visitors with a means to understand my research and ensure that the in-camera methods are emphasised.  How might I reflect on the roots of OOO in OO Computing?
  • I should make a clear and proper case for OOO and thoroughly substantiate my argument.  My practice has important things to say.


  • My practice should provide an aesthetic framework to critique Harman – need to develop.
  • I have the opportunity to create my own philosophy through art.
  • I should work through the story of considering Harman, Bennett et al in searching for my ontology.
  • Photography as research.

My sincere thanks go to the Convenor, the examiners and my supervisors.

Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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