Challenging Fragmentation: Overcoming the Subject-Object Divide through the Integration of Art-Making and Material Culture Studies
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This practice-led thesis explores ways in which to integrate art and material culture studies as a manifestation of philosophy’s process thread. In doing so, its goal is to generate a praxis which is able to come to holistic terms with the fragmenting dualism of subject-object binaries. By seizing my own subjectivity in its representation of this problem, the thesis develops a performance-led practice which seeks to overcome the barriers that its divisive ‘I’ presents to process. This interdisciplinary project is an explicit response to the figure of Friedrich Nietzsche; his bearing helps to constitute its methodology and repertoire as his presence is creatively teased from the pages of his own books. Part One of the thesis discusses how the mimetic aims of artistic representation were harnessed to challenge my own subjectivity’s singular sense of authority. Thereafter, Nietzsche’s pre-modern temperament comes to enable a holistic consideration of the perceptual ambiguity within Jacques Lacan’s geometric model of ‘seeing things’. Part Two engages with representation as a method of making difference for the bridging of subject-object divisions. This occurs as subjective experience and is extended to some inorganic others, producing creative outcomes which aim to access a cosmological principle of affect that is identified with Nietzsche’s thesis of will to power. The third part of this thesis aligns the research aim, of making apparent the oneness of the cosmos, with the shamanic dimensions of some vintage slapstick cinema. In its development, it comes to terms with the subjective gaze and identifies process-led strategies for challenging and changing its outlooks. This provides a background for Part Four, which marks the beginning of my attempts to engage the gaze of other people in processes that procure and ideally affect their perspectives. While the first four parts of the thesis demonstrate the progress of the research project through the deployment of art and its affecting capacities, its final two parts put the work of philosophy into aesthetic effects, and represent artworks that constitute elements of the thesis itself. Part Five evidences my art practice re-engaging with the world through a project which holistically involves the outlooks of subjects, whilst nevertheless challenging their perceptual precepts. Part Six discusses a performative experiment that consolidates and tests the research findings in a potentially affective structure, expressed through Laurence Halprin’s RSVP cycle. Finally, as it reflects on the potential healing capacities of my practical research and the possibilities for ‘doing’ philosophy, the thesis details how an art-making that embraces both visual and material cultures through the eventness of performance might be able to overcome the problematic perceptual divides that limit the progress of process logics.
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