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The visible intangible : an examination of the experience of turbid spaces

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Weeding, HP 2016 , 'The visible intangible : an examination of the experience of turbid spaces', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This project emerged on an airplane flight from the Tasmanian mainland to Flinders Island in 2011. After ascending through a whiteout, the cloudscape revealed was surprising, beautiful and uncannily similar to the earth-bound landscape below. The cloudscape now visible looked solid, but having just passed through this turbid space, it seemed impossible to grasp corporeally. How could it be imbued with fear and awe simultaneously? Is distance required in order to fully experience a turbid space?
I began research by literally immersing myself in fog: arising early in the morning to walk along the banks of the Tamar Estuary (chosen for its changeable atmospheric conditions), often surrounded by thick strata cloud. This was followed by experiences of driving through fog, in particular the Bridgewater Jerry radiation fog. I distilled these experiences of atmospheric, dense cloud and found that they incorporated the corporeal and concrete, sound, movement, the insubstantial and endlessness. In attempting to capture these and other abstract qualities, I was not undertaking a phenomenological enquiry but using visual methods, specifically painting.
My painting experiments involved a variety of media including Mylar, acrylic/polycarbonate, paper, mirrored board, oil paints, ink, pastels, liquid graphite, watercolour and enamel paint, plus gel and binder mediums. I narrowed the choice, through trial and error, to ink, watercolour, liquid graphite and enamel paint on paper, composite board and acrylic sheet. The earlier works reflect layering processes that were later refined to encompass not only the fluid mediums, but also the rigid framing support system. This layering emulates the formation of fog/cloud band: the space between the white layers acts like a liminal or suspended moment, one that I feel best describes the experience of being in turbidity.
I make reference to artists who compare the constant change to dense cloud such as Atelier Chan Chan and those who make artificial/man-made cloud: Fujiko Nakaya, Antony Gormley, Kurt Hentschlager, Diller, Scofidio and Renfro and Berndnaut Smilde. Those who investigate the spatial qualities of turbidity include Jem Finer, while Rosemary Laing, Lesley Duxbury and writers Rohan Wilson and Danielle Wood explore atmospheric liminology. Klas Eriksson, Olafur Eliasson and architects Philippe Rahm and Peter Zumthor have a distinct interest in ‘atmospheric’ atmosphere, among others.
The Visible Intangible demonstrates a connection between the experience of turbidity through artistic representations and the medium of paint. It also emphasises the human desire to reinstate oneself at a distance from thick, dense cloud, in order to find direction and context.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Weeding, HP
Keywords: turbidity, thick cloud, human experience, light, sight
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Copyright 2015 the author

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