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Master of Fine Art submission

McDowell, David 1992 , 'Master of Fine Art submission', Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania.

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There is for me an aspect of the world that mutely or inarticulately insists its
significance while remaining inconsequential and inconclusive. It might be this aspect of
the world that provides the minutiae of dreams, the idle details that may register themselves
vividly but that, nonetheless, remain indifferent to analysis or comprehension. It seems that
a shadowy, but wilful principle animates the world in this aspect. Its nature is dark, and
peculiarly erotic because its occurrence is unexpected and uncontrollable, and its effect
provocative but always elusive.
The images I am submitting are attempts to engage the world on these terms; to
express both my affection for and disappointment in the world. All the images come from
my experience; they are attempts to assert my relation to the world as I experience it, to
make my world show itself in my images as it shows itself to me. I am attempting to
present the viewer with a fugitive glimpse of a world image that is haunting but equally
unconsoling. I wish to create for the viewer the uncertain position from which I experience
the world, from which I perpetrate myself upon the world, a position that bears a certain
existential veracity but that also possesses a certain dishonest edge.
My project involves an underlying evasiveness whereby the viewer is engaged by
the power of the work but denied the possibility of assuming control over that power. It is a
game of empty epiphany and desultory seduction played out by images that seem to betray
something and yet ultimately stand for nothing.
My procedure begins as an undeclared sciamachy - a cold war with shadows. I try
to take advantage of my experiences by using a camera to generate images from my
position, but without trying to fully compose or preview what the film receives. I never
presume that I can represent what attracts me the most, if it is to be seen at all it will only
happen by looking aside, the way one would perceive a faint star, looking slightly away
then back again to where one thought it to be in order to allow its rays to fall on the more
sensitive peripheral receptors at the back of the eye. I use the camera peripherally, as a way
of looking aside from my position; I use the viewfinder only to obtain a view of the scene
but rarely to compose a shot. But with the camera I become aware of my position not as
voyeur in my own life, the exponent of a pleasure that is active, directorial, vindictive.
From the contact sheets I make of the films I take in this way sometimes I find
images that seem to possess an inarticulate power, which makes me return to them,
sometimes years later, and attempt to present these peculiar images in a manner that will
heighten that power. I have experimented with reproductive techniques and materials that
will preserve the strange and unexpected nature of these images. Though photographic the
images can never become photographs because that convention is too familiar and would
only overcome their unlikely charge.
I do not attempt to use the images as a way of meaningfully relating my experience
of the world but to express my ambivalence toward it. I am only interested in what the
work does - the effects it has - not what it might mean or be about. I want to create a quietly
disturbing beauty, a sense of undirected menace, a haunting inertness. I want to create
images that have the effect of images that have moved me. I have learned that to achieve
the effect that I seek I must avoid looking too closely at other sources, for this approach
tends to lead me toward an ironic mannerism that subsumes the existential trace that seems
to lend the images their arresting charge.

Item Type: Thesis - Unspecified
Authors/Creators:McDowell, David
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1992 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1993

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