Oliver Wood Photography


An analytical essay on Stephen Poliakoff's TV drama
By Oliver Wood.

It employs a process of research which is primarily forensic and therefore denotative. The more effective connotation of these images is construed in their narrative juxtapositioning as a sort of parallel montage of attractions, as opposed to the Oldendorph collection which seemed to be more linear like a story board.

The connotative value and power of this small slice of the archive is ostensibly a manifestation of the decanting of Oswald's more introspective and prosodic talents. Again, the presentation is imbued with a sense of the photograph as an ineluctable document of truth, or "evidence". There is no question of fabrication or of any misconstruing. As with the Oldendorph photos it is clear that this collection of pictures has come from right across the archive and encompasses a broad range of subjects and authors, it includes many images that would have appeared insignificant in isolation and now appear to be vital cognitive stepping stones. The narrative presentation also serves to recall the matrix of context and meaning.

The film concludes with Mr Anderson finally deciding to save the archive in its entirety and thus retaining its functionality, though I believe it is to be shipped elsewhere possibly to the USA. A situation that would have resonance's with the Americans fondness for the wholesale purchase of other peoples relics and setting them in inappropriate contexts. Oswald is now in a state of convalescence following a near fatal overdose that has resulted in brain damage and a consequent loss of normal speech capability. The photographs that Oswald took of himself now acquire added poignancy as relics of all that he has lost including the archive with which they are connected in a reflexive sense.



1. McGuffin, Alfred Hichcock's term for the seminal narrative device that clarifies the logic of the plot. ie Alex Delarge's misappropriation of the Nietzscheian concept of "The Will to Power" in Clockwork Orange.

2. Bazine André, What is Cinema, Vol 1, University of California Press 1967, p.9

3. Ibid. p.10

4. Ibid. p.14

5. Bolton Richard, The Contest of Meaning, MIT Press 1992, p.16

6. Ibid. p.16

7. Burgin Victor, Thinking Photography, Macmillan 1992, pp.86-87

8. Ibid. pp.86-87

9. Ibid. p91

10. Bolton Richard Op.cit.,p.15

11. Op.cit., p.17


Bazine André, What is Cinema, Vol 1, University of California Press 1967

Bolton Richard, The Contest of Meaning, MIT Press 1992

Burgin Victor, Thinking Photography, Macmillan 1992

Rosenblum Naomi, A World History of Photography, Abberville Press 1997

Tagg John, The Burden of Representation, Macmillan 1998

Wollen Peter, Signs and Meaning in the cinema, Secker & Warburg 1998

Part 1