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Design emergence: Beyond modernist orthodoxies in colour/form painting


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Kaukenas, O 2006 , 'Design emergence: Beyond modernist orthodoxies in colour/form painting', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Through this research project I explore the operations of formalist
abstraction, its visual aesthetic and its potential for communicating
content and meaning for the viewer. Using the device of
colour/form painting on shaped MDF board, 1 investigate the
functional dynamic that exists between myself as artist and the work
which I produce. Working with a geometric form, which lrefer to
as the base module, I engage in a process of design emergence
which utilizes both my intuitive and cognitive faculties. This
process involves a mass production of the base module, followed by
the configuration of the resu lting components into a number of
design assemblages. As I work with the formal aesthetics of each
configuration and its respective surface patterning, the visual
properties of the base module change and emerge as a new design
Working within the parameters of colour/form painting, I make
reference to basic modernist orthodoxies such as flatness,
materiality, the cumulative grid and pictorial immediacy. ln
querying how each of these applies to my work, 1 succeed in
circumventing their modernist prescriptions and attempt to show
how they can function successfully in a postmodern conception of
formalist abstraction. Basic to this inquiry is an assessment of
Clement Greenberg's formalist aesthetic, especially in relation to the
form/content debate and the subjectivity of aesthetic judgement.
My references to the artists working in this field draw from those
who pioneered colour/form painting in the modernist tradition, such
as Ellsworth Kelly and Bridget Riley; those who took formalism
into its conceptual stage, such as Sol LeWitt and Mel Bochner; and
those who have used formalist, conceptual and theatrical elements to produce postmodern works for contemporary audiences, such as
Sarah Morris and Matthew Ritchie.
The two key factors operating throughout the design as emblages
are firstly, the theories related to de ign emergence and, secondly,
the theatrical mediation of work which, as formalist abstraction, I
propose still maintains some aspects of modernist immediacy. Tbe
design assemblages, when viewed seque ntia lly, il lustrate the
phenomenon of design emergence. The gallery space, in relation to
the shaped modules and their patterned surfaces, a llows for a
'mediated immediacy' that connects Fried's notion of the theau·ical
with the self-referential quality of the formalist aesthetic.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Kaukenas, O
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