Projecting symptoms

Joanna Lowry

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


The essay explores the way in which contemporary video installations have plotted the relationship between the subject and the spectator and the implications that these developments have for the way in which we understand subjectivity as a cultural construction. I argue that through these practices the self that is projected onto these screens is seen as potentially hysterical self, fragile and troubled. We tend, when confronted with these works, to read the signs of the subject’s behaviour clinically – as though they were syptoms of a hidden trauma. One way of understanding this phenomenon is to plot its origins in the early relationship established between photography and the representation of mental illness in the nineteenth century. My argument is that the peculiar ambivalence between the clinical and the theatrical that was established in some of these images, linked as it was to ideas about the evidential power of the photographic image itself, established a powerful discursive space that is still being actively deployed in the gallery today. The works that I describe each deploy this discursive space in different ways, but all involve a specific negotiation of the relationship between the spectator and the subject through the way in which they are physically installed, and all of them in some sense contruct that relationship as diagnostic, with the subject exhibiting their symptoms to a clinical gaze.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScreen Space: the projected image in contemporary art
EditorsTamara Trodd
Place of PublicationManchester and New York
PublisherManchester University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9780719084638
Publication statusPublished - 2011


Dive into the research topics of 'Projecting symptoms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this