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|Title: ||Acts of Mindness|
|Authors: ||Swan, Armelle|
|Keywords: ||visual arts|
|Issue Date: ||6-Jan-2015|
|Publisher: ||University of Sydney|
Sydney College of Arts
|Abstract: ||The MFA project ‘Acts of Mindness’ seeks to explore the relationship between artistic observation, space, speculative narrative and visual thinking. Based around painting, but also using installation, the studio work engages the viewer with fragments and images of partial and suspended narratives in order to prompt reverie and incite a train of speculative narratives in the viewer’s mind. The case studies in the written thesis deal with this relationship, the particularly abstract and suggestive process of adding information to pictures through looking. In this sense, ‘Acts of Mindness’ is a project that investigates the very opposite of the way we read commercial media. While the latter is always geared toward a basic message, or thing, the MFA is very much about visual open-endedness. These are not dead-ends but rather spaces of infinite possibility.
The thesis consists of three core chapters. ‘Observation’ compares two still life paintings—one by Juan-Sanchez Cotán and the other by Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin—in order to analyse the transformative powers of artistic observation for both artist and observer; how the artists’ energies, thoughts, gestures and intuitions are embedded in the work, in turn animating the viewers experience. ‘Space’ is a comparative analysis between the assemblages of Joseph Cornell with an unlikely pairing from popular culture, the police box (‘Tardis’) of the science fiction television program Doctor Who. It draws out the phenomenological, poetic and semiotic implications of their spacial structures of containment to reveal how, and why, brilliant ideas are often found inside, not outside the box. ‘Speculative Narrative’ takes a painting by Edward Hopper and a photograph by Beat Streuli to interrogate the ways in which a representation of an unknown woman, coupled with strange pictorial omissions, creates intrigue and mystery, prompting the creation of a speculative narrative within the observer.
The studio work consists of two parts: oil paintings and an installation of wooden box assemblages. The paintings fall into two subgroups: The first include evocative paintings of interior spaces, such as Interior at Kings Cross and Stairwell. Both paintings are replete with haunting narratives for the artist but the spaces in and of themselves resonate with notions of presence and absence, inside and outside (reality), as well as the window as eye. These resonances form a visual and conceptual link to the timber assemblages that accompany the paintings. The second group of paintings are based on photographs taken of unknown persons, in the city streets or cafes of Sydney. Each figure is singular, their solitude emphasising the act of thought, being lost in reverie, and by association, the realm of the unknown. The wooden assemblages consist of five drawer-sized boxes and four smaller ones of varying dimensions. Each contains a selection of small objects with strong attachments to particular places, some of them linked to threads of personal history and trauma.|
|Type of Work: ||Masters Thesis|
|Type of Publication: ||Master of Fine Arts M.F.A.|
|Appears in Collections:||Sydney Digital Theses (Open Access)|
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|Swan_A_thesis.pdf||Thesis||258.37 MB||Adobe PDF|
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