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An Investigation into the Ontological Significance of Sculptural Objects

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Langridge, C (2006) An Investigation into the Ontological Significance of Sculptural Objects. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

The research is developed through sculptural artworks that seek to raise the question of their being. They do this through their indeterminate presence, which often awakens people to ask ‘What is it?’ I ask how sculpture can encourage people to wonder about what things are, and how the relationship/s we form with art can then lead us to reflect upon our other more worldly relationships. I also pursue the questions of what is sculpture, and what is contemporary art, in order to map out an understanding of the domain of my practice, and the issues at stake regarding the making and display of sculpture. Through a reading of the ideas of Martin Heidegger and other Continental philosophers, I have focused upon the way our (Modern Western) relationship with things in the world is problematic, and how art can help us to address some of these problems. It is through art’s poetic ambiguities that our usual determined and closed relationship with the world can be opened up to other readings. An investigation into contemporary art practices reveals several issues that put the artwork into context and shed light upon difficulties facing contemporary artists particularly in terms of: what am I to do, why should I do it and how should I proceed? My artworks are aimed at raising questions for the viewer about being, sculpture and contemporary art. I have developed the coopering technique of wooden construction to make unusually shaped wooden container-like sculptures. I have also investigated other semi-industrial working methods to construct sculptural objects that oscillate between various possibilities for the viewer. These artworks operate in the field between the familiar/unfamiliar, functional/non-functional and the known/unknown. They resist the viewer’s efforts at stilling the oscillation between possible readings and evade some of the common roles of contemporary art such as being a site for social and political dialogue or being a reflection of contemporary/pop/consumer culture. This project contributes to the dialogue already in play between several Post-Minimal sculptors whose work touches upon constructed and or manufactured ambiguous forms. It further develops the language of how to discuss these issues through my philosophical readings. It extends the coopering technique beyond the simple cask form to discover the technical possibilities for this method of construction. It brings to the gallery visitor an actual experience of what Heidegger writes about art, particularly in terms of his ideas about ‘the truth of being as revealing/concealing’. The research also develops our understanding of the nature of contemporary art through questioning several aspects of it and through adopting outmoded and laborious methods of making that are at odds with our digital age. The artworks are the result of working toward a position of indeterminacy that is alluring, by partially resisting the viewer’s efforts to know them.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2008 01:25
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 03:32
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/3587
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