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Mirrored resonance : exploring an aesthetics of engagement


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van der Beek, SM ORCID: 0000-0001-5485-9871 2017 , 'Mirrored resonance : exploring an aesthetics of engagement', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The aim of this project is to explore the appearing of the world; the manner in which the ordinary, everyday world is ‘there’ for a perceiving subject. This philosophical enquiry is undertaken through a phenomenological approach to photographic practice which explores looking as a participatory and embodied form of engagement with the world.

The project takes light as evidence of the appearing world. I work with a precisely organised photographic apparatus to make light, rather than the objects illuminated by light, evident. The apparatus is a glass bowl filled with water, positioned in-relation-to an expansive view. The images are composed so that the reflective surface of water fills the lower third of the frame. This portion of the image is in focus, and the remainder is softly focused. The images do not visually reference the scene in front of the camera as it appears to the naked eye. What the image shows and what I can see through the viewfinder, is a field of light structured by the relations between proximity and distance. These formal parameters both delimit the field of enquiry and align with the pictorial conventions of landscape representation.

As the project progressed, I maintained this reductive approach to composition, working with the landscape convention stripped to bare bones (foreground, background and horizon). I became more and more interested in how spatial qualities are registered somatically at subtle, physical and emotional levels. It is the subtle nuance of these often hidden and unarticulated relations which I am aiming to bring forward in the resulting artworks.

This exploration led to a formal analysis of the philosophical concept of aura, drawing upon the writing primarily of Walter Benjamin, Diarmuid Costello, Gunter Figal and Theodor Adorno. I define aura as a relation of intimate distance, between the perceiving subject and the perceptual object. In this project, aura is characterised by fluid, mobile relations and an integrative movement between proximity and distance that does not collapse or undermine that distance. In conclusion, the work amplifies perceptual, structural and aesthetic relations between embodied self and the environing world.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:van der Beek, SM
Keywords: Photography, phenomenology, aesthetics, beauty, aura, landscape, space, light
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Copyright 2017 the author

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