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Sean Raggett

MA work

The Empty Landscape (The Watcher/Watched) is a meticulous observation of a CCTV camera installed in a defeatured landscape, depicted using two separate and almost identical viewpoints using an analogue 8x10" film camera. At once a meditation on the state of surveillance and the absurdity of the camera's almost omnipresence in our contemporary lives, the triptych also includes a large-format portrait of an adolescent-looking 12-year-old boy. A juxtaposition occurs: the incredible scale and detail of a traditional film portrait on the one hand, contrasted with an implicit reference to the framing and style of a passport photograph, a universal format that carries strict guidelines and allow facial recognition software to instantly recognise one's visual fingerprint amongst a global database of other conforming images. The portrait of the boy necessarily activates the reading of the double landscape where the viewer is invited and challenged to "spot the difference", with the two prints reminding us that a duplicate is never the same as the original, and to likewise reflect on the lens as a critical but potentially problematic "eye" with which we perceive the world.


  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA Photography, 2017

  • My work investigates sociological narratives using large-scale colour photographs made primarily with a large-format film camera. These visual constructions aim to reflect the timeless qualities that exist in a singular frame or subject, and the portrayal of 'natural' or 'undisturbed' contemporary visual drama is key. The question of art's truth-value intrigues me, particularly how the photographic medium is arguably more about constructing than representing its subjects. My recent investigations centre on the ever-increasing state of surveillance and the curious phenomenon of self-divulged participation in public theatres such as social media.

  • Degrees

  • Bachelor of Fine Art (Honours), Emily Carr University, 2004; Bachelor of Arts (Psychology/Sociology double major) University of British Columbia, 1995
  • Experience

  • Endless Book Club by Self Publish Be Happy: The Royal College of Art MA Photography discusses "Incoming" by Richard Mosse (Mack Books, 2017) Tate Modern, London; Polaroid: Hipster Commodity or the Renaissance of Verity (The Rebirth of Photographic Truth) Artist talk presented by The Redeye Network, Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, 2015
  • Exhibitions

  • Kurt Schwitters Merz Barn RCA Residency Exhibition "Cumbrian Woods" industrial lightbox with illuminated c-print, 48x60" Lumen Studios, Bethnal Green, London, 2017; "Photoconceptualism Is A Lifestyle" Twelve custom-framed t-shirts with felt lettering, each 2x15x15" #windows187, Greenwich, London, 2016; Get Living London "Queen's Woods" framed c-print, 30x40" (with Gavin Turk, Katherine May et al.) East Village Foyers, Stratford, London, 2016; "Polaroid Factory" 3 chromogenic transparencies in industrial lightboxes, each 48x60" & 3 perspex face-mounted c-prints, each 8x10" Print House Gallery, Dalston, London, 2014; Disstemma: Dialogue 5 - Never Against the Sun "ARP Site II (Upper Clapton)" 9 lightboxes with original E6 transparency film, each 6x5x4" Abbot Street Bunker, Hackney, London, 2014; Disstemma: Dialogue 4 - Vision Thing "Church Arch, Church Arch II (reprise)" 2 lightboxes with duratrans, each 50x40" Hackney Wicked Festival, London, 2013; Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize "Queen's Woods" c-print, 30x40" Shipley Art Gallery & National Portrait Gallery, Newcastle & London, 2009; Disstemma: Dialogue 2 - Watching Shadows Against A Wall "Defeatured Landscapes 2 & 5" lightboxes with duratrans, 88x72" & 60x48" Firemaster Gallery, Hither Green, London, 2008; Photographic Portrait Prize Fourth of July (Wanting, Waiting), c-print, 30x40" National Portrait Gallery, London, 2007
  • Awards

  • Fujifilm Distinctions Awards, 2010; Credit Union Foundation of British Columbia Bursary, 2004; Emily Carr University of Art & Design Bursary, 2003; Credit Union Foundation of British Columbia Bursary, 2003; Fujifilm Professional Photography Challenge: Outstanding Achievement, 2002; British Columbia Arts Council Tuition Scholarship Junior Award, 2001; Mary Catherine Gordon Memorial Scholarship, 2001; Marion V. Murray Memorial Scholarship, 2001
  • Publications

  • Offprint London 'Social Landscapes' 32 pages, 7x7" (edition of 200) Tate Modern, London, 2017; The Empty Landscape: Photography, Magic, and Possibility (MA Dissertation - Distinction), 69 pages, 2017