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Art as ecological communication: An application of site-specific installation art to marine ecosystem degradation

Quon, J 2002 , 'Art as ecological communication: An application of site-specific installation art to marine ecosystem degradation', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This research explores the potential of fine art to communicate ideas
and values pertaining to ecological issues, in particular the marine
ecosystem. The research is founded upon the historical function of art
as a social, educative and, at times, activist cultural force. It
investigates the potential of a variety of art modalities to fulfil this
historical function. The different modalities comprise sculptural
installation, large-scale video-based installation and printmaking. In
addition to their diversity in terms of media, the majority of the works
produced have been site-specific in character. Though presented in
settings of vastly differing kinds, the common denominator of each site
is that it provides exposure of the work to a broad public audience.
Since the notion of art-as-communication is central to the research, the
presentation of works in non-gallery, highly-frequented public contexts
is an important objective.
The major influences on the author's ideas and art practice are
described in the exegesis. Some influences are of a personal nature, and
are advanced within the paradigm of phenomenology, within which
experience and subjectivity is privileged. They include childhood
experiences, pivotal encounters with works of art (notably with Anish
Kapoor's 1988-89 work, Adam) and powerful underwater experiences.
Other influences include ecophilosophy and environmental thought in
general, with the fields of 'deep' ecology, ecological spirituality and
the ecologically-grounded art theories of Suzi Gablik prominent.
The research is underpinned by reference to artists for whom an artistic
praxis of social change is central. A number of 'public' artists who
have utilised art as a socio-political instrument are addressed, including
Joseph Beuys, Shirin Neshat, Krysztof Wodiczko and Jenny Holzer.
The ideas of philosopher John Dewey are also considered, particularly
his position on the arts' role as a central force within culture: on what
Ernst Fischer has described as 'the necessity of art'.
The research presents a concept of 'ecological' art which can be
differentiated from 'environmental' art conventionally so-called, the latter represented by Michael Heizer, Robert Smithson and Christo.
Exemplars of the 'ecological' art proposed include Beuys, Andy
Goldsworthy, Jill Peck, and Robert Gschwantner.
Each art project has arisen out of partnerships and collaborations forged
by the researcher's establishment of strong links with key local,
nattonal and international organisations and specific personnel from
within the realms of marine science, private industry, local government
and the maritime industry.
It is posited that this research has contributed not only to broader public
awareness of marine-ecological issues, but also to an enhanced
appreciation of the significance of contemporary art - and of the
contemporary artist- within the community.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Quon, J
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