University of Tasmania
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Nocturnal phenomena : an investigation in print and installation

posted on 2023-05-26, 18:53 authored by Johnson, IE
This project is concerned with exploring phenomena of the night through combining printmaking and installation practices. I explore a phenomenology of darkness via embodied vision. The embodied nature of vision implies subjective experience and this is the key to re-activating a viewer's relationship to the environment in darkness. I consider how perception changes in the dark and the intermingling of the senses becomes more apparent, precipitating a heightened suggestivity to nocturnal phenomena. I have drawn on phenomenological ideas and methods and on my own nocturnal experiences to reflect on aspects of the changing contemporary night, creating a series of print-based installations that extend the possibilities for sensory affect. I bring together installation strategies and the analogue print as an embodiment of the tactile to assert the phenomenological. The submitted work has developed through extensive experimentation that draws together diverse methods for combining prints in installation environments. I have explored strategies that locate the visual via embodied processes, combining the physical mark making possibilities of the analogue print with installation strategies. Using print processes I have collected a range of marks derived from tactile interactions with forms. The printed marks do not describe visual forms, rather they are fragments that signify a sensate engagement with the unseen in the dark. The ability of print to reproduce images in different states has facilitated possibilities for the construction and fragmentation of imagery, as repeated forms alter and echo, generating heightened effects. I configure these in ways that strategically focus on the tactile, inviting an intimate and experiential engagement. The intent of the project is to create a perceptual intervention, a break in habitual and everyday modes of viewing. In terms of theory, Merleau Ponty's discussions of phenomenological thought provide key reference points for the project, in particular the idea that experience at the moment of apprehension and prior to conceptual meaning suggests new ways of understanding the relationship between self and the world, one that relocates vision in the body. I have also drawn on the writings of Jonathan Crary, who describes how an understanding of embodied vision has emerged and discusses ways that contemporary perceptual experiences are changing, and Paul Crowther, who considers the phenomenological possibilities for artworks. Rosalind Krauss' critique of the optical has also been significant as it locates several art practices that subvert the disembodied optical; and I trace a series of connections with other artists who have enlisted the bodily as a means of destabilising the visual. The project is located within a field of contemporary artists who engage with ideas about perception and darkness in relation to the environment and, in particular, with artworks that deal with the concept of an embodied relationship to darkness and utilise phenomenal strategies to engage viewers on a sensory level. Rothko, Turrell, Morris, Eliassen and Kusama deal with perceptual questions, creating immersive environments that engage in reflection on the world. Fernandez, Hofshi, Bitters, Seigel, Silveira and Pien deal with perceptions of darkness in their works and develop strategies to extend the sensory. While current installation practices often explore the sensory possibilities of Lhe digilal, my installation positions the analogue print to comment on the transition from the physical to the virtual worlds that we increasingly inhabit. The results of this project are shown in a dark, labyrinthine installation that interrogates the realm of perception, as the viewer is invited to consider the embodied nature of vision. Everyday modes of seeing are destabilised through encounters with fragments of imagery that hover between form and feeling, imagination and reality. This is suggestive of experiences of the night, where not only tactile, aural and visual phenomena are experienced differently but also images are conjured in the mind in response to nocturnal events. This exploration of ideas and processes suggests a reading of the night which points to the richness of sensuous engagement with the world, encouraging the viewer to reconsider their own multi-sensory relationship to the world in darkness.


Publication status

  • Unpublished

Rights statement

Copyright the Author CD-ROM contains installation images. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2011. Includes bibliographical references

Repository Status

  • Open

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