Description: This thesis paper articulates the ideas, creative approach, and methodology with regard to the visual component of my thesis project. As a painter, I explore the concept of the ‘public realm’ by appropriating and disrupting environmental designers’ two dimensional perspective sketches. These stylized sketches, typically used for marketing purposes within the design profession, are distorted and warped into unsettling places. Idyllic visions of parks, waterfront plazas, playgrounds, and other nostalgic public places are transformed into doomsday scenarios through the injection of fragmented media images and individual memory of catastrophic events. By making the familiar feel unfamiliar, I hope to generate a series of enigmatic and uneasy associations for the viewer. The designer's intention to convert virgin space into a democratic, civic place becomes compromised and circumspect during these moments of danger. These places deny the viewer the comfort of representing any specific location, and yet seem uncannily familiar. Built form transgresses from a designer's optimistic sketch for the future into glimpses of destruction and uncertainty. The structure of the thesis begins with an introduction to the main themes of my research. Firstly, I explore a variety of approaches to the visualization of idealized public places. By discussion of the forms and intentions of Deconstructivist architecture and the notion of the architectural uncanny, I provide a theoretical backdrop toward the investigation of contemporary approaches to placemaking. I describe my background in environmental design and the impact of my Modernist training on my painting practice. Secondly, I describe how the preceding ideas are addressed in my painting practice. By situating my work with regard to contemporary painters such as Peter Doig, Daniel Richter, Neo Rauch, and Matthias Weischer, I investigate common themes or points of departure with respect to the representation of place and space, mark making, colour and composition in their work. Lastly, I focus on six paintings from my thesis project work. I describe the creative process for generating images, discuss source material, painting techniques, the use of the figure, specific influences and the intentions of each piece.
Description: This thesis will examine the role of a landscape photographer’s subjective view in the construction of a photographic image by considering the significance of their photographic intent, visual relationship to the physical world and personal relationship to place. I will deconstruct my series Neither Here Nor There, examining the significance of investing my own history of experience and memory into the photograph in order to explore my relationship to the landscapes I have lived in. The paper will examine the roles of the photographer and the viewer when reading a photograph, using Susan Sontag’s ideas of authority within the photograph from On Photography, Roland Barthes’ concept of the ‘punctum’ from Camera Lucida, and Robert Adams’ essay Truth and Landscape, to investigate how a photographer forms intent within his photographs. Drawing on Kaja Silverman’s World Spectators, the paper will go on to explore an individual’s visual relationship with the physical world whilst maintaining the core idea of exploring the photographer’s intentionality within a photograph by using the practice of Thomas Joshua Cooper as an example of a photographer who claims authority over his images. The thesis then analyses how concepts of place influence this conversation by using Yi Fu Tuan’s Space and Place to investigate an individual’s relationship with the physical world. Taking Italo Calvino’s Mr Palomar and Rinko Kawauchi’s photographic series The Eyes, The Ears as examples, the paper looks at the representation of an individual’s relationship to the physical world through their internal solipsistic view. The essay concludes with an explanation of how my photographic series Neither Here Nor There, tackles the issue of the representation of the photographer’s intent and subjectivevision, by offering an autobiographical reaction to my own sense of place.
Description: This thesis examines the ways displacement is reflected in artistic practices dealing with land, landscape and geography. Land is addressed here as context for histories of displaced persons and it is assumed that connection with the environment affects the human sense of belonging. The theories presented in this essay contextualize practices that turn to subjects of land and displacement approaching them in the light of embodied1 cognition. By investigating emergent and alternative patterns of agency that these theories offer, I trace a current epistemological shift described by a curator and theorist Irit Rogoff which resituates a theory of cognition within lived experience. This shift is important for considering the phenomenon of re-building a "sense of place"2 after the rupture of displacement - as a process of identity and knowledge formation. My research views painting as a practice of agency in examining the experience of concrete subjects rather than seeking formal, transcendental conditions of subjectivity. Employing a theory of embodied cognition I approach the matter of land as place and abstracted landscape painting as an artistic practice and an attempt to actively re-build my own sense of belonging. Through a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in the "representational events"3 of similar practices it is my intention to create a context for my own practice of painting. Work of Ana Mendieta, Julie Mehretu, Huma Bhabha, Joshua Neustein, and Anselm Kiefer is referenced in this paper for evidence of how living away from one's home country or questioning its history is reflected in artists‘ work. I test the potential of embodiment theory and terminology application within the realm of these practices. As an immigrant I had to forge a new identity in adopted environment. In this thesis I intend to elevate the subject of displacement and migration from the matter of universal empathy to the level of identity and knowledge formation. I examine stages in my own new identity development from the rupture of displacement to the awareness of being defined by several cultures. I register how different cultural ways of seeing overlap and influence each other in my work.
Description: Agente Costura is a Portuguese term loosely translated into We are a sewing Agent. It stands for my experiments with the sewing machine as a compositional percussion instrument, making music out of making clothes, challenging myself in collaborative performances with new ways of transformation. The interdisciplinary quality of the work means that it can be adapted and presented in different settings, from art galleries, to fashion weeks, to music festivals, aiming to engage with various audiences. The work investigates participatory currents in art history, paying special attention to two distinct moments in performance history. Researching my own cultural background, I make reference to Brazilian artists of the 20th century working with participatory performances such as Hélio Oiticica, and Ricardo Basbaum. These artists have created a specific aesthetic that draw on cultural issues in Brazil, which are mirrored in my own work. The work of New York based artists influenced by the teachings of John Cage, such as Fluxus and Allan Kaprow, interest me due to improvisational aspects, as well as the creation of happenings, and the interdisciplinary quality of these works, as I explore music, dance and performance art. Furthermore, my work discusses the contemporary term upcycling, as defined by Michael Braumgart and William Mcdonough, relating back to historical texts on the Dress Reform of the late 19th/early 20th century, both questioning the fashion industry as perpetrator of unnecessary consumption. These themes are stitched together in a rhizomatic structure, through the theory of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, feeding into the fabric of contemporary art, and creating a patchwork of experiences and ideas.
Description: This thesis paper addresses a personal journey into a longtime fascination with mythological hybrid characters. The studio component of my thesis work, the thesis project, entitled In the Caves of Mt. Ida, BC, is an interactive animation installation that depicts moments from a hybrid's life in its natural habitat. The viewer, while engaged with the animation, must remain quiet and stationary so as not to disturb the hybrid. If it is disrupted or annoyed it may respond unexpectedly, perhaps violently. This paper also describes an interest in interactive narrative and non-linear storytelling. It uses both David Clark's 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein and my own work as primary examples, for dismantling the expectations of conventional storytelling, while also introducing ideas of anti-narrative and anti-interaction. My method has been informed by Giorgio Agamben’s theoretical interpretations of umwelt, as a means to illuminate visualizations of a hybrid and its actions and reasons for being. The concept of umwelt also helps to establish the notion of the monster: if the hybrid is deprived of its basic needs, or carriers of significance (as described by Agamben), then the monstrous side has the potential to reveal itself. I use the concept of umwelt as a lens through which to view Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein and Alan Moore’s graphic novel Swamp Thing, to examine the complex personality of a so-called hybrid monster and its capacity for good and evil. In addition, this paper also examines an attraction to horror and the abject, by way of using Jan Švankmajer's film, Little Otik, as a primary case study.
Description: Considering art as both a metaphor for place and a place in itself, this thesis project investigates the organic and fabricated rhythms in everyday life and art making. The project’s concern is the effect of repeating seemingly simple gestures associated with the minutiae of everyday life. The rhythmic act of walking through place is a foundation and preliminary activity for the resulting paintings, drawings, and sound work. Echoing the action of walking, the rhythmic and temporal quality of music provides additional focus and inspiration. The works in the project present place from an aerial view, and considering the writings of philosopher Michel de Certeau, explore the complexities and tensions of representing absence, and creating intimacy in spite of an alienating view. The writings of sociologist and philosopher Henri Lefebvre provide a context for analyzing rhythms and noticing difference. Repetition in sound is considered as a parallel to repetition in the visual. The music cognition researcher Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis outlines the phenomenon of semantic satiation, which is used as analogy to analyze the rhythmic nature of the work in the project. The work of artists Mark Bradford, Richard Long, and Roman Opałka are drawn on through their use of repetition, focus, and interactions with place. Artist Avis Newman’s writings influence discussions of the nature of the unbound, unframed form of the work in the thesis project. The unbound form of the work connects it back to notions of the everyday and its incessant nature. An interest in the everyday informs the thrust of the work, indicating the aim of the practice: to create work that eschews spectacle, elevates simplicity, and recognizes the significance of the ordinary.
Description: The early stages of the design process are often ambiguous and complex. In this phase designers discover, learn and gather much information about the audience, culture and the context they are designing for. Through the synthesis of data their goal is to learn as much as possible about all stakeholder perspectives, activities and constraints involved in the design situation in order to identify and prioritize design problems. This paper examines the value of visual storytelling methods in the early stages of the design process to enhance the identification of design opportunities, validate assumptions and improve design decision-making when designing for an optimal user experience. To help evaluate the potential benefits of visual storytelling methods a case study has been conducted with fourth year Interaction Design students at Emily Carr University involved in designing a patient tracking system using radio frequency identification technology for the BC Children's Hospital Emergency Department. This research explores storytelling as a visualization tool for translating, interpreting, verifying and communicating data collected from diverse user communities to build a better understanding of the context and circumstances surrounding complex design challenges involving multiple stakeholders.
Description: The social and political relevance of contemporary art is bound up in paradox. As the perceived failures of the avant-garde demonstrate, even the most radical projects of the 20th century eventually succumb to some form of institutional enfranchisement. As an artist working within an art museum, this irony is particularly acute. Given the problematic political biases of the institutions of art, how can artists elude this performative capture to exercise their agency? In response to this, artists have probed the boundaries of art practice seeking a way out. Acts of complete withdrawal, while dramatic, are not productive. Critique plays an important political function of art, yet negation on its own is not enough. There is, I think, another way: not a way out but a way in. Situated in and between modes of affirmation and dissent, my sculptures, texts and photographs work in dialogue with art world conventions to create witty and poetic meditations on art and knowledge. Through the use of humour and ambiguity, I operate strategically within dominant narratives to keep performative capture at bay. Using a methodology adapted from Deleuze and Guattari's theory of the minor, I aim to create a space of productive estrangement to call forth new subjectivities.
Description: In this thesis, I discuss two media installations and the process and reasoning behind their creation. These include The Monster and The Explorer a three channel video installation that addresses marginal voices and pathology and my final thesis project, Bed, Door, The Order of Things an interactive nine channel video matrix dealing with intimacy and boundaries. Growing out of a desire to collaborate and choreograph a composition of elements these two works explore relationships and storytelling. Specifically, I investigate authorship as an emergent interaction and collaboration as they relate to desire in the negotiation of intimacy, bodily gesture and boundaries. I act as artist/ instigator to examine the creative process as both set and provisional using rules and improvisation toward the recording of performances for the camera. The media installation and interactive components within the resulting exhibitions work to extend the collaborative experience into the space of the gallery. I consider these two projects through their art historical antecedents from artists coming out of Black Mountain College and the traditions of the Situationist International to the conceptual avant-garde. I am especially invested in theoretical concepts that draw from philosophy to investigate what is essential to my work.
Description: This practice based research is grounded in multi-day walking and camping activities guided by procedures which alter the ways I perceive and participate with my more-than-human surroundings. From these walks emerge animations, installations, oral presentations, as well as virtual and material objects which draw relations between humans, animals, plants, landscapes, and other entities: A creek visited during a walk spawns a carved series of stones, and a story about the birth of a child. The research practice can be understood as a relational network that is dispersed across time, place and medium. The network can also be read as a narrative, where an understanding of the practice becomes more complex as each object is discovered and incorporated into the larger story. The work attempts to understand the world through sensorial experience, indigenous ways of knowing, and Husserl and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology. From these embodied perspectives, relationality and respectfulness emerge as dominant themes in the creation of the work. This narrative-relational structure acts as a reflexive framework that guide the form and content of art objects, and gives meaning to the work in a gallery space. The utility of the framework is expanded, tested and reinforced by drawing on fellow artists including Duane Linklater’s Decommission and Valère Costes’ Tortue.
Description: My thesis research is an investigation of Guatemala’s history, where I am from. I do this in resistance to silence, venerating and collaborating with my ancestors. The silence I speak of is a Guatemalan characteristic that entails never speaking about trauma. The trauma of violence, war and the wounds left by the colonization of indigenous peoples by the Spanish. This silence exists in my home were the recent war is seldom talked about, it exists in school classrooms where we are not taught history, and it exists in the public as forms of self hate and neglect of the other. But this silence is broken by the iq’ (wind) on the day of the dead. During the celebrations for the day of the dead in Guatemala, communities gather each year on November the 1st to construct giant kites that with their flight take messages to the dead. But within these messages there exists resistance. I am using the idea of the kite to venerate and communicate with the people of the CIRMA archive (center for mesoamerican research), that is an archive of guatemalan history through the lense of a camera. The photographs of the archive are witnesses of history, they break the silence and deny the lies. I have separated this archive in two group, the perpetrators that stand as witnesses, and the photographs that symbolize collective memories and ancestors whom I wish to venerate in the creation of a memory sculptures that function as kites that cannot fly. The heaviness of their material, that of the cement and steel ground the kites to the earth as symbols of what repression and silence can create. I hope that by the creation of these sculptures I am able to resurrect these spirits and celebrate them in hopes that their memory can be not only acknowledged, but released.