University Of Tasmania
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Agitating the void : phenomenology and its practical application in drawing

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posted on 2023-05-28, 08:32 authored by Edgar, DPF
Our conscious experience of things is what gives them meaning distinct from the things themselves. Agitating the Void takes this philosophical notion, critically interrogating Edmund Husserl's phenomenologic theory of conscious experience, and applies it in new practical ways in the field of drawing. In doing so, this project creates new pathways in the application of descriptive, interpretive and explanatory systems for creative practice. The project's drawings derive their subject matter from analyzing personal experiences that engage qualities of the void at four different geographic locations. Grounded in Husserl's characterisation of phenomenology, the project's theoretical context enables me to postulate and advance a link between my personal experience ‚Äö- of cognitive and remembered impressions of the void ‚Äö- and its materialisation in drawing. Through adapting and testing phenomenologic theory in practice, subsequently the void, as manifest in drawings, in landscape, in memory and within myself, becomes transformed, viewed emphatically as both an entity and a feeling. I interrogate a number of artists and theorists who manifest deeply reflective interpretations of their tacit experience of the material world, such as Christopher Tilley's practical application of phenomenology as a method to gain insights into the meaning and purpose of ancient rock formations in Europe, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty's view that the meaning of conscious experience is emphasised by the sensing body as a conduit between the perception of the thinking mind and things as they exist in the world. I explore Gaston Bachelard and Junichiro Tanizaki's phenomenologically poetic perceptions of darkness, and Alain Badiou and Jacques Derrida's analytic approaches that encapsulate the dichotomy of certainty and uncertainty in the act of drawing. The creative work of this thesis sheds new light on the void; through intense observation of the striking geological forms and the surface of rocks found at each site; through the ambience of the site as affected by my personal viewpoint; and, fundamentally through the experiential lens of my own mood and temperament. Sensations of being on edge, feeling despair and melancholy, or isolation, emptiness, negation or absence, are channelled to manifest the void through drawing. Central also is the effect of absence and forgetting, and traces of remembered experiences actively recalled in the studio as a phenomenological mechanism in the creative process. Intrinsically, it is in the act of remembering the void, rather than that of the direct experience, that informs the development and resolution of the drawings. The drawings picture the void, where its qualities ‚Äö- as uncertain, equivocal and tenuous ‚Äö- are manifest in the different attributes and qualities of drawn marks, and at times, their erasure and/or re-layering. Within this, the paradox of the void is revealed ‚Äö- it is empty yet full, it is both form and nothingness, and in a pictorial sense it is both representational and abstract. It is revealed through fluctuating snippets of memory replete with forgetting and absences; and in the tenuous materialisation of internal emotive states. In these circumstances, the void agitates connections between both feeling and material things. The significance of the research lies in the expansion of inquiry into, and knowledge of, individual or social-cultural relationships and their connection to the physical and metaphysical world through the application of Husserl's phenomenologic theory. This approach creates a new pathway to gain tacit knowledge and understanding of phenomena, experience and their interpretation and expression through artistic practice.


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