Jean Baird

Jean Baird

Lecturer/Senior Lecturer

School of Art & Design

Staff Group(s)


Senior Lecturer, Theory and Practice of Photography

Research Supervisor and Dissertation Module Leader.

Current projects

Shaping The Invisible was presented at the conference ‘Look Out! Photography and the Worlds of Contemporary Art’, March 15 – 18 2007, Miami, Florida. The impetus for the paper came from her own visual work as shown in Magic Within Reason (DomoBaal, London 2004), and the paper for Smoke and Mirrors. She discusses the ideas and practice of Zielinsky and Mulvey, and revisits and revises the discourse around the representation of time in the photographic image between the still and the moving image.

Contrary Discourses of Illusion; Getting Into The Spirit of Things was a keynote presentation at the symposium ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ at Midlands Art Centre (MAC) on 1 April 2006. Jean’s paper explored the historical link between photography and magic in relation to spiritualist photography of the late nineteenth century, when the photographic image literally was a magical screen that sought to provide evidence of the afterlife in materialist terms, particularly in relation to the photographic images indexical and instantaneous nature.

Audio/Visual/Projection at the Melbourne Festival, August 2005 and August 2006. Jean’s contribution to the 2005 event, the “Improvised Mango Photograph”, was a meditation through image and text of what it might mean to improvise a photograph, drawing upon Italo Calvino’s short story about the Adventures Of A Photographer. In 2006 her contribution was a photographic image “Ode to the Engineer”, to mark the life of the artist Alexej Gastev, 1882-1941, a poet and revolutionary who saw the founding of the Russian Institute of Labour as his greatest artistic achievement.

Research Supervisor and Dissertation Module Leader.

Career overview

Supervision of past doctorates includes projects focusing on the following topics:

  • The representation of women in the films of Michelangelo Antonioni and Rainer Werner Fassbinder and in the photography of Jeff Wall and Thomas Struth.
  • Writing for solo performance practice.

Research areas

Jean’s practice and research has generally been concerned with an exploration of the photographic mark as both trace and symbol. She has mainly worked by producing series of images, installations or books, and has written and published essays on other artist’s work: Language, Chronos, Mimicry and Light: Ghosts In The Metal, essay published in a catalogue for Mary MacLean “Slipped Status” (2000); and Revelations, Occlusions and Misunderstandings for Jonathan Shaw in 2006.

Recent historical and theoretical research has focused around ideas of photography and magic, from the affective relation of the viewer and the image to the literal practices of secular magic, the illusion and showmanship found in magic theatre and early film that is a neglected component of photographic history and practice. As an old technology seen from the perspective of new media the photographic image persists, often inconspicuously, into the future of immersive art practices.

  • Photography
  • Audio, Visual and Performance

External activity

External examiner for Photography at University of the Creative Arts, Rochester, Kent.