In his text for The Field catalogue, Patrick McCaughey described the ‘severely non-referential quality’ of the work displayed in the show, and it was, of course, the abandonment of the great Australian figurative tradition that signified formalist modernism. Yet contrary to McCaughey the artists of The Field made a variety of forms (and degrees) of reference in their work to a world outside the painted surface.
An expressionist such as Kandinsky, for instance, replaced a representation orientated to the coded, outer material world with an expression of the coded, symbolist inner world. This is premised on an outer inner world duality with the inner privileged as prior.
This would suggest that the development of abstraction was not simply toward the elimination of those last vestiges of representation, but rather toward the materiality of the object and that ‘something more’ that enlivens it. Photography can be a photography of something and an abstraction.