This thesis explores the epistemological shift in my photographic practice from an
ethnographic position to that of surrealist documentary. In charting this shift I have
consider the use of documentary photography by the historical Surrealist movement
,and, the synthesis of surrealism and ethnography found in the English group Mass-
Observation. The photograph’s oscillation between indexical record and mystical
emanation forms a key position in understanding these two groups belief in the found
images ability to describe a repressed reality located in the mass unconscious.
Drawing on the Lacanian model of the Real used by Slavoj Zizek as a tool of cultural
critique I suggest a new framework for a surrealist documentary practice. In bringing
the methodology of the early Surrealists into a contemporary context I consider the
position of suburbia as a new terrain vague in relationship to the fantasy of the Real.