Dr. Michael Schofield

Dr. Michael Schofield


I have been awarded a PhD for my practice-led research on the ontology of photography entitled ‘Aura and Trace: The Hauntology of the Rephotographic Image’. My supervisors were Simon Popple and Dr. Jim Brogden, and the thesis was examined by Dr Kate Nash and Dr Sarah Atkinson (King’s College London). The research was based on my own creative practice as a landscape photographer, utilising appropriated archival images of areas of the city which have disappeared, and a deconstruction of various rephotographic forms. The practice interrogated theory regarding the photograph as a paradoxical temporal distortion, approached through the metaphor of the ghost, and the Derridian notion of ‘hauntology’.

Alongside the thesis, which compares the analogue and digital photographs involved and proposes a view of ‘aura’ as historically contingent, the research also resulted in various practice-based outputs, including a photo book called A Window on Time, and a projection work installed at Leeds Light Night: The Remote Viewer.

I work as an artist publishing my work under the alias Michael C Coldwell.

Examples of my work can be found on my portfolio website: www.michaelcoldwell.co.uk

I have begun a post-doctoral research fellowship with the Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute, and continue to work in the school as a dissertation supervisor for MA students, and elsewhere as a visiting lecturer at York St John University and Leeds Arts University.

Research interests

My practice-led research into the temporal and spectral nature of rephotography began in October 2015. My problem concerns the changing ontology of the photographic image in the digital era, with regard to notions of materiality, realism and mediation, and photography's role in how we both remember the landscape and perceive the passage of time. 

Through investigative practice my research aims to reveal the 'hauntology' of the photographic image, resurrecting and re-evaluating theories by Jacques Derrida and Walter Benjamin, and applying them to photography's own shifting topography of technologies and practices. The methodology for this study is grounded in both my own creative practice as a landscape photographer, and re-presentation of photographic material from the archive. Currently this work is focussed on the Godfrey Bingley photographic archive, held by Special Collections at the University Library. This project will attempt to rephotograph the lost landscapes depicted in Bingley's murky gelatin dry plates and crumbling cellulose nitrate negatives, currently being rescued by the Library's Digitisation team. These explorations aim to uncover the role the materiality of the image itself plays in our resurrections and re-imaginings of the past, and examines the effects of this on the digital archive. 

Other research interests include hauntology and cultural theory, sound art and installation, film theory and psychoanalysis, digital materialism and creative practice as a research methodology. I am also very interested in non-narrative and slow cinema, and the use of duration in film and related media.

More information on my research is available from www.michaelcoldwell.co.uk/auratrace.html


  • PhD Communications Studies (Photography)
  • MA Cinema and Photography
  • BA (Hons) Visual Communication
  • BTEC Foundation Art and Design