The aim of this practice-based research project is an attempt to understand the perceptual space that occurs when a viewer encounters a work of art. More specifically, it reflects on the in-between space that occurs when viewers interact with artworks that draw on historical events to explore violent conflicts, death and commemorations. The thesis expands on contemporary notions of interpretations with a particular focus on the non-linguistic factors that may convene in the aesthetic experience. It has a dual outcome, consisting of creative and written components.
The creative component, Shifting Horizons, is a body of work that was inspired by ancient Chinese burial sites. The artworks are a meditation on cross-cultural burial practices with a particular focus on interaction with the natural environment. As such, they engage with the tension between human transiency and the endurance of the natural environment. By evoking remains of the dead in the landscape, the artworks highlight the notion that landscapes are infused with significant historical dimensions. In its particular way, this body of work is an intermixing of symbolic means employed to point out that in contrast to the surviving fragments of the relics unearthed in the burial pits, the natural world is not a dead world, and perhaps it is most essential to the survival of human life.
In making this body of work, I wish to suggest that works of art can act as a potentially transformative vehicle within a wide range of discourses. This is further explored in the written component - Event, Eventing, Eventuality. The text, which is concurrent to the creative component, applies the perspective of hermeneutical aesthetics to reflect on the determinants that may shape the encounter with a selected corpus of contemporary artworks. In addition to critically reflecting on these artworks, the writing draws on texts by a group of scholars – Heidegger, Gadamer, Benjamin, Serres, Deleuze and more - to examine relevant concepts that have been identified in the course of the research. Moreover, this thesis suggests that applying a hermeneutic approach in combination with other, perhaps incongruous, thinkers in the critical traditions, can enrich the processes of interpretations and understanding that are central to qualitative inquiry in general, and particularly so to the discipline of fine arts.