Final piece with glass installed.
These images are displaying the set up of my piece for the final exhibition, it is not yet finished as there will be a section of glass hung in front the work for it to be viewed through. During my work the material glass became increasingly apparent. It was interesting to investigate how and why we use it and how we interact with, especially in this piece where I explored how it unintentionally confronts us with the other and simultaneously our external image.
The Gaze was a term coined by Lacan. I read about this concept in the book Reading Images which also contains texts by Foucault on the Panopticon and an interesting text by Zizek on the triad of the gaze. Lacan explains that the gaze is more than just viewing it has a reciprocal nature. By the very fact that we are seeing means that we have also the capability to be seen as well. He elaborates on the mirror stage to demonstrate this, it is an early developmental period during infancy when a child first becomes aware of their external image. Lacan infers this has social implications and political parallels when analysed in later life. For me I was very interested in the external image especially in the context of todays media culture. However I focused mainly on the reciprocal aspect of seeing, the duality of seeing and be seen simultaneously. I wanted to explore how this happens daily when it is easy to forget our external image and become absorbed within ourselves and forget our outward projection. In my work I want to create an awareness of our own image as well as drawing attention to other peoples.
My work this term has been centred around several theoretical concepts. Firstly exploration into Formless theory. This was initiated during and after working with abstract shapes in clay. This led to thinking about metaphysical form, which was related to class stratums in the original text by Bataille. By researching what could become a symbol for formless currently the idea arose to use an analogy: the homeless. Representing an entire class of people who relate to two or perhaps even more standard categories especially in relation to society, homeless people both sit outside of ‘normal’ circumstances for Western culture, for example the digital world, but interact with it constantly. They are un-databased and unregulated therefore existing outside established systems but could be reinserted and potentially came from within the system itself. This dual nature is the criteria for formless.
This concept necessitated a move away from working with clay to video and video installation. This provided more scope to explore the theme and reference several ideas at once. From the initial piece made on this subject further theories became clear as relating and developing on from formless. One of these was the Abject. This is the other. Often referred to in relation to disgusting or horrific subject matter because it repels us but this is because it is the opposite to ourselves. The abject is whatever is opposed to us, this can be individual but often it is discussed in wider terms relating to general perspectives. When applied to the homeless this opens up space to explore relationships with the other. How people tend to react to the other and why. By using projection in my works this makes the other intangible and immediately the opposite of human. But it also relates to the human mind which does not exist physically but is where these thoughts and involuntary reactions reside. In the first instance of projection work relating to formless, the piece was literally without form. However since further experimentation, looking into where and how it is projected and the introduction of other materials, this further articulates the points within the work.
The most recent research has been about the Gaze. This was first introduced by Lacan who spoke about the dual nature of seeing. This subject is extremely interesting and has become one of the sole focuses for my work. The dual nature is the idea that seeing is reciprocal; being seen in the act of seeing. He introduces this idea in relation to the mirror stage which is an early developmental stage during infancy where the child becomes aware of its own external image. This can also be related to experiences in later life. In terms of my work, when thinking about the other and how humans react to it, the concept of the gaze introduces the idea of the other completing the gaze. This is in the sense of the reciprocal. When one is confronted with the abject and the abject forms part of the gaze how does that affect the response to it? This question is what I am currently exploring in my work, experimenting with how I can recreate this experience in my art practice.