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Australian art

Contemporary art


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Aaron Seeto


25 Nov 1978 -


My interest in silver photographic processes coincides with my interest in my family's history, and the ways in which both the photographic record and the retelling of stories degenerates and is reconstructed through time … I create all of the photochemistry where possible, re-creating 19th and early 20th century photographic techniques such as silver-salt, albumen, dry and wet plate processes. The works engage the history of photography as well as specific cultural references. In these works photochemistry is utilised not only to invoke the history and foundations of photography, but to also illustrate the desire to better understand my family and its complex history of assimilation and change.1

Aaron Seeto has been researching his family's photograph albums since 2001, a project which will continue until 1000 family portraits have been completed. The Seeto family came to Australia from China via Papua New Guinea (as traders) in the early 20th century. The artist began his study of 19th- and early 20th-century photographic processes in the same year that he began research into his family.

Much of Seeto's work over the last six years has utilised eggs onto which family portraits are applied. The play on the importance of eggs in Chinese culture coincides with the importance of albumen in early photographic processes. Each image in the triptych 'Missing' bears the trace of a relative. The works have a ghostly effect as the outline of the subject and the swirls of watercolour and albumen work off each other. The reference to old photographic techniques is enhanced by the use of glass with its transparent and reflective nature.

1. Seeto A 2005, ‘Aaron Seeto: for silvered tongues’, Esa Jaske Gallery, Sydney

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007




Media category


Materials used

triptych: 3 watercolour albumen prints on glass


3 photographs: each 18.0 x 13.0 cm

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l. verso a, red ink "... Aaron Seeto/ .../ 2005".
Signed and dated l.l. verso b and c, red ink "... Aaron/ .../ 2005".


Purchased with funds provided by the Photography Collection Benefactors' Program 2005


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Aaron Seeto

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 1 publication


George Alexander, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Tableaux - memento mori - screen culture', pg.313-335, Sydney, 2007, 318, 328 (colour illus.).