Monthly Archives: March 2015

Artist Statement

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.

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I followed onto reading this book from the Formless literature I had previously read. By identifying my formless ‘character’, a homeless person, it became apparent that not only do these characteristics make them formless but it also makes them abject. The abject, I have learnt, can appear in several forms. It can be something repulsive to us; dirt, mould, bodily waste etc, but not only are they disgusting to us they are also out of place. The reason we find them disgusting is because of where we find them, if they are too close to us, we happen upon them in a place we did not expect to find them. Not only that but they are opposed to us, opposite, something other than myself. These aspects make up the abject, and can be applied to several things. In this case my idea of a homeless person is abject because they are opposite to ‘us’, I am not suggesting a sense of disgust as with the previous examples but rather more to do with our perception of them as other. Kristeva discusses also a kind of fascination or connection to the abject as well, something I could explore further with these works. This links again with perception, which can be vary between individuals, I will explore this idea further with research into the ‘gaze’, specifically writings by Lacan and others in the book ‘Reading Images’, this shall be discussed in a separate post.