University of Tasmania
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Fugitive identity: an abstraction of persona through the mask, camouflage and material assemblage

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posted on 2023-05-28, 12:42 authored by Kluss, BD
This research project explores, through a studio-based investigation, a condition of identity that is fugitive in nature ‚Äö- that of a persona ‚Äö- the experience of shifting and mutable roles and contexts framed as an array of literal and metaphorical masks. This condition is explored through a body of work that employs lenticular stencils, termed 'masks', to produce disruption patterns that encourage an active and dynamic interplay with the observer, resulting in a tension between the virtual, the real and the actual. An analysis of the mask and strategies of masking (covering, modulating, protecting, dissimulating etc.) are located and discussed within a range of art practices, where the mask is observed to be a material-semiotic actor in a network of relationships that enables the performance of camouflage. Camouflage is introduced and observed as the strategic relating (an active process) between an entity and the parts of the world to which it belongs or dissociates; a fluctuating of the senses between sharpening and blurring that produces an experience of the world that is particular and partial ‚Äö- an umwelt as defined by Jakob von Uexk‚àö¬¿ll. This framework proposes that identity is not to be understood as a static, fixed entity but rather as the product of a series of events or performances that are constantly in flux, as defined by Giles Deleuze in The Logic of Sense (1993). The practical investigation moves through a series of experiments that explore dimensionality within a painting-based practice, employing strategies such as masking, stencilling, cutting, layering, reflecting and repeating; moving from a single picture plane through to multidimensional and assemblage-based works that employ heterogeneous materials and processes focused on the kinetic movement and proprioception of the observer1. This investigation is contextualised through the environmental assemblages of Robert Rauschenberg, the lenticular optics of Victor Vasarely and Lincoln Austin, the persona of Andy Warhol, the technological assemblages of Ivan Navarro, and the camouflaging strategies of Lee Yong Baek, amongst others. It proposes a practical methodology of heterogeneous assemblage, as defined by Manuel DeLanda, in which simple interactions between limited components can produce an infinite array of complexity and potentialities. This has resulted in a body of work employing machine-cut layered stencils, described as lenticular masks, that interfere with human gestalt perception, producing a real and granular encounter with emergence; a becoming real through the interaction of systems, one territory opening onto another, moving from a representation of camouflage towards an active and dynamic performance of camouflage. The shifting apprehensions of pattern recognition in the final works allow for a new understanding of identity; one that is in a state of active camouflage, a fugitive in the mask of a persona.


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