Document Type

Theses, Masters


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) to the Technological University Dublin, 2007.


This thesis is a critical analysis of Full Moon-Apollo Mission Photographs of the Lunar Landscape by Michael Light. It demythologises the Apollo missions as they are presented in this collection of images. Through an examination of the critical and historical conditions underpinning the construction of the viewing subject in modernity, with particular reference to photographic images, this thesis identifies and analyses what is at stake and how the transaction that is looking and interpreting is negotiated. Light’s exhibition (also published in book form) is the product of his intervention (1996- 1999) in the photographic archive holding 32,000 images from NASA’s Apollo moon missions (1968-72) Chapter one provides a critical and historical overview of the conditions through which the construction of the viewing subject in modernity developed. Drawing on a number of scholars in visual cultural studies, art history and literary theory, it foregrounds the central arguments in the framing of contemporary philosophies of photography. Chapter 2 examines Full Moon in terms of the discursive connections between the space race and historically constituted lens cultures, the invocation of biblical metaphors and their manifestations in romantically inflected image making and the configuration of terrestrial and lunar desert motifs as peripheral contact zone in colonial expansionism. The thematics and critical concepts in Chapter 3 include the links between ‘Manifest Destiny’ and wilderness as physical and metaphysical device, gendered imaging and travel photography, historically situated lunar photography, and the inter-operation of federal photographic projects with public discourse as manifest in Life magazine in the 1960s.