University of Tasmania
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Repetition and difference : poetic invocations of nature in visual art

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posted on 2023-05-26, 01:27 authored by MacDermott, MT
Repetition, particularly as employed in minimalist art, has been contrasted to the poetic insofar as it is associated with notions such as sameness and standardization, while the poetic is associated with uniqueness and difference. In my work however, my aim is to express a poetics of nature through the use of repetition. Because of the centrality of repetition, minimal ism was the initial context that informed the research. But while minimalists emphasized the modular, which has connotations of standardization and mass production, my interest resides in how repetition operates in nature where there is never an exact replication. The key artists within the research context are Carl Andre whose use of the modular grid evokes a sense of environment; Claude Monet in relation to his investigations of the nuance of changing light and atmospheric conditions as manifested particularly in his water lily series; Paul Klee's use of repetitive tree-like structures; Agnes Martin's repetition of the horizon in her monochromatic paintings; Emily Kame Kngwarreye's repetition of marks/gestures that draw on nature in her paintings; and Vija Celmins' repetitions of marks and of oceanic and inter-stellar motifs. Correlations have been formed in the research between Gilles Deleuze's understanding of repetition within Difference and Repetition and Gaston Bache lard's definition of poetics within The Poetics of Space. I propose that the similarity of the operations of repetition and poetics suggests they can be viewed as being related, and that the essential condition of the two orders is mobility. The three main aspects of nature that have been researched in relation to mobility and repetition are: the wave and its dual characteristics within water and light; growth, particularly leaf vein structures that appear uniform but are unique; and time seen through cycles and evolutions in nature. My contribution to the field is in extending a dialogue in which repetition is not mere replication of the same but arises out of the recognition of difference within sameness.


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