Paintingphotogdigital: From Hybridity to Synthesis in the Age of Medium Equivalence


Robinson, C. 2022. Paintingphotogdigital: From Hybridity to Synthesis in the Age of Medium Equivalence. Thesis University of Derby Arts
AuthorsRobinson, C.
Qualification namePhD (Traditional)

This thesis questions whether it is possible to synthesise material-based painting, photography, and digitally created and manipulated imagery in single artworks. To answer this question, a practice-based research of experiments explores physically conjoining painting with photography and the digital in picture-making. The investigation tests painting in its relationship with the other mediums, which adds to the current debates around painting’s position in contemporary art practices including “painting in the expanded field.”

Painting has always had a contested relationship with photography, with the older discipline adopting the newer medium’s visual languages whilst freeing itself from the constraints of representation. For nearly two hundred years, painting’s repositioning in relation to photography has constantly redefined the traditional medium’s meaning and ensured its validity as a practice is re-asserted. As new data-based technologies expand into the aesthetic consciousness, painting also now locates itself against the digital to continue this self-renewal. However, whilst painters site their medium against either photography or the digital, there is little in the current art discourse that engages material-based painting with photography and the digital in direct combination as a means of further interrogating two-dimensional image-making. It is surprising that in a post-medium age, where artists undertake heterogeneous modes of art-making, such practice is under-explored. Conjoining material-based painting with photography and the digital in artworks provides a means of testing painting against new technologies; foregrounding painting in this conjunction adds to understandings of that medium’s role in a digitally media-saturated age.
Initial practice of creating hybrid painted-on-photographs leads to the question of whether it is possible to synthesise these mediums in single pictures. This raises further questions as to how synthesis might be achieved, what attempting synthesis reveals about painting’s nature, and why attempting synthesis is important to the contemporary visual arts dialogue? To answer these questions, practical research attempts to conjoin the mediums visually, physically, and methodologically. Jerrold Levinson’s and Joseph Yasser’s theories of hybridity and synthesis of art forms conceptually inform the practical application of physically combining the mediums in two-dimensional artworks. Richard Wollheim’s theory of “seeing-in” paintings and Ernst H. Gombrich’s theory of differentiated viewing of pictures are drawn on to analyse hybridised and synthesised viewing experiences of the conjoined pictures. Concepts of erasure in art are employed to critically inform the deconstruction of hierarchical oppositions of the mediums, set within a dialectical materialist framework. Relevant contemporary art practices that investigate relationships between painting, photography, and the digital are surveyed to contextualise the practice.
The research begins to fill the gap in practices and the literature around investigations into the relationship of the three mediums together, which contributes to understanding painting’s ontological nature in the digital age.

KeywordsPainting; Photography; Wollheim; Digital; Medium; Media; Medium Equivalence; Gombrich; Levinson
PublisherUniversity of Derby
Output statusUnpublished
Publication process dates
Deposited12 Apr 2022
Permalink -

Download files

  • 59
    total views
  • 36
    total downloads
  • 1
    views this month
  • 0
    downloads this month

Export as