University of Tasmania

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Master of Fine Art submission

posted on 2023-05-26, 19:22 authored by McDowell, David
There is for me an aspect of the world that mutely or inarticulately insists its significance while remaining inconsequential and inconclusive. It might be this aspect of the world that provides the minutiae of dreams, the idle details that may register themselves vividly but that, nonetheless, remain indifferent to analysis or comprehension. It seems that a shadowy, but wilful principle animates the world in this aspect. Its nature is dark, and peculiarly erotic because its occurrence is unexpected and uncontrollable, and its effect provocative but always elusive. The images I am submitting are attempts to engage the world on these terms; to express both my affection for and disappointment in the world. All the images come from my experience; they are attempts to assert my relation to the world as I experience it, to make my world show itself in my images as it shows itself to me. I am attempting to present the viewer with a fugitive glimpse of a world image that is haunting but equally unconsoling. I wish to create for the viewer the uncertain position from which I experience the world, from which I perpetrate myself upon the world, a position that bears a certain existential veracity but that also possesses a certain dishonest edge. My project involves an underlying evasiveness whereby the viewer is engaged by the power of the work but denied the possibility of assuming control over that power. It is a game of empty epiphany and desultory seduction played out by images that seem to betray something and yet ultimately stand for nothing. My procedure begins as an undeclared sciamachy - a cold war with shadows. I try to take advantage of my experiences by using a camera to generate images from my position, but without trying to fully compose or preview what the film receives. I never presume that I can represent what attracts me the most, if it is to be seen at all it will only happen by looking aside, the way one would perceive a faint star, looking slightly away then back again to where one thought it to be in order to allow its rays to fall on the more sensitive peripheral receptors at the back of the eye. I use the camera peripherally, as a way of looking aside from my position; I use the viewfinder only to obtain a view of the scene but rarely to compose a shot. But with the camera I become aware of my position not as voyeur in my own life, the exponent of a pleasure that is active, directorial, vindictive. From the contact sheets I make of the films I take in this way sometimes I find images that seem to possess an inarticulate power, which makes me return to them, sometimes years later, and attempt to present these peculiar images in a manner that will heighten that power. I have experimented with reproductive techniques and materials that will preserve the strange and unexpected nature of these images. Though photographic the images can never become photographs because that convention is too familiar and would only overcome their unlikely charge. I do not attempt to use the images as a way of meaningfully relating my experience of the world but to express my ambivalence toward it. I am only interested in what the work does - the effects it has - not what it might mean or be about. I want to create a quietly disturbing beauty, a sense of undirected menace, a haunting inertness. I want to create images that have the effect of images that have moved me. I have learned that to achieve the effect that I seek I must avoid looking too closely at other sources, for this approach tends to lead me toward an ironic mannerism that subsumes the existential trace that seems to lend the images their arresting charge.




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  • Unpublished

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Copyright 1992 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1993

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