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Nocturnal phenomena : an investigation in print and installation

Johnson, IE 2011 , 'Nocturnal phenomena : an investigation in print and installation', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This project is concerned with exploring phenomena of the night through
combining printmaking and installation practices. I explore a phenomenology
of darkness via embodied vision. The embodied nature of vision implies
subjective experience and this is the key to re-activating a viewer's
relationship to the environment in darkness. I consider how perception
changes in the dark and the intermingling of the senses becomes more
apparent, precipitating a heightened suggestivity to nocturnal phenomena. I
have drawn on phenomenological ideas and methods and on my own
nocturnal experiences to reflect on aspects of the changing contemporary
night, creating a series of print-based installations that extend the possibilities
for sensory affect. I bring together installation strategies and the analogue
print as an embodiment of the tactile to assert the phenomenological.
The submitted work has developed through extensive experimentation that
draws together diverse methods for combining prints in installation
environments. I have explored strategies that locate the visual via embodied
processes, combining the physical mark making possibilities of the analogue
print with installation strategies. Using print processes I have collected a
range of marks derived from tactile interactions with forms. The printed marks
do not describe visual forms, rather they are fragments that signify a sensate
engagement with the unseen in the dark. The ability of print to reproduce
images in different states has facilitated possibilities for the construction and
fragmentation of imagery, as repeated forms alter and echo, generating
heightened effects. I configure these in ways that strategically focus on the
tactile, inviting an intimate and experiential engagement. The intent of the
project is to create a perceptual intervention, a break in habitual and everyday
modes of viewing.
In terms of theory, Merleau Ponty's discussions of phenomenological thought
provide key reference points for the project, in particular the idea that
experience at the moment of apprehension and prior to conceptual meaning
suggests new ways of understanding the relationship between self and the
world, one that relocates vision in the body. I have also drawn on the writings
of Jonathan Crary, who describes how an understanding of embodied vision
has emerged and discusses ways that contemporary perceptual experiences
are changing, and Paul Crowther, who considers the phenomenological
possibilities for artworks. Rosalind Krauss' critique of the optical has also
been significant as it locates several art practices that subvert the
disembodied optical; and I trace a series of connections with other artists who
have enlisted the bodily as a means of destabilising the visual.
The project is located within a field of contemporary artists who engage with
ideas about perception and darkness in relation to the environment and, in
particular, with artworks that deal with the concept of an embodied
relationship to darkness and utilise phenomenal strategies to engage viewers
on a sensory level. Rothko, Turrell, Morris, Eliassen and Kusama deal with
perceptual questions, creating immersive environments that engage in reflection on the world. Fernandez, Hofshi, Bitters, Seigel, Silveira and Pien
deal with perceptions of darkness in their works and develop strategies to
extend the sensory. While current installation practices often explore the
sensory possibilities of Lhe digilal, my installation positions the analogue print
to comment on the transition from the physical to the virtual worlds that we
increasingly inhabit.
The results of this project are shown in a dark, labyrinthine installation that
interrogates the realm of perception, as the viewer is invited to consider the
embodied nature of vision. Everyday modes of seeing are destabilised
through encounters with fragments of imagery that hover between form and
feeling, imagination and reality. This is suggestive of experiences of the night,
where not only tactile, aural and visual phenomena are experienced differently
but also images are conjured in the mind in response to nocturnal events.
This exploration of ideas and processes suggests a reading of the night which
points to the richness of sensuous engagement with the world, encouraging
the viewer to reconsider their own multi-sensory relationship to the world in

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Johnson, IE
Keywords: Night in art, Installations (Art), Prints
Copyright Holders: The Author
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Additional Information:

CD-ROM contains installation images. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2011. Includes bibliographical references

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