Dissertation Proposal

I had a good day today. Ive been dreading writing this dissertation proposal all week.

 

Buuuut It had to be done, so I set aside my whole Wednesday to wade through it, and it wasn’t so bad really. I love researching and writing, its often difficult to start but its great when you get into something like that and can start piecing together a line of thought.

My thoughts are on ‘the everyday object as art’.

 

“A natural or man made object found by an artist and kept because of some intrinsic interest the artist sees in it. Found objects may be put on a shelf and treated as works of art in themselves.”

The official website for Tate galleries online offers this definition of the ‘Found Object’ in relation to art. The explanation is given that if an object, any object, is put on a shelf by an artist it is automatically referred to as ‘art’. Is the power then, of transforming an object into an artwork, with the artist, the object or more simply with the gallery space? Can anything be put into a white room and be viewed at with wonder? 

Marcel Duchamp writes in a 1918 edition of an avant-garde magazine, ‘The Blind Man’ that the artists’ physical involvement in an artwork is irrelevant, if he has created the object or not is unnecessary to evaluate. What makes an object art is that it has been chosen by the artist to be viewed as art. By choosing to place an object in front of the viewer as art, the artist gives the object a new identity to be considered, and therefore redefines the purpose of the object. One cannot begin to discuss the object as art without turning attention to Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 work, ‘Fountain’. Presented originally as a humorous jibe at the serious attitude towards modern art in America, ‘Fountain’ presents a perfect example of a common object being completely redefined. This event marks the groundwork for a change in social perception of the definition of art and the object as art. Progressing on from this, artists such as Claus Oldenburg, Joseph Beuys and Robert Rauschenberg must also be considered. These are all examples of artists who use found objects and adapt them within their art. Rauschenberg’s ‘Bed’ defies preconceptions of the everyday object. By simply being hung on a wall with some additional paintwork and scribbles, the viewer is confronted with something new to contemplate, regardless of the fact that they see a bed everyday.

Similarly, Christian Boltanski is able to encourage this change of perception of a common object. With Boltanski, its usually not the object he manipulates, but the surroundings and other components of the installation. In his work ‘Personnes’, the feature piece is a huge room filled with heaps of clothes and a large crane redistributing the clothes into different piles. The average viewer wears clothes everyday, sees rails of clothes in the highstreet and dumps bags of them in charity shops. However, when viewing the piles of clothes in Boltanski’s piece, one thinks of loss, scale, and remnants of the dead. Christian Boltanski manages to provoke fresh thought in objects that we, the viewer, are surrounded by day to day.

In studying the object as art one must consider the artists ability to achieve this change of perception while looking at examples of artists who have done so and how they have done so; whether by changing the object, the setting, or simply placing it within an artistic context, and public perception of the untouched object being called ‘art’.

 

After some hefty note taking, and an encouraging cup of coffee, I threw the above statement together to outline what my line of thought is at the moment. Its going to change, I can tell, so I wasn’t too fussy on the wording.

Right now this is a pretty broad theme. I’m hoping to specify more once I’ve built up my research and identified the key points that interest me. Aside from reading books and researching artists, I’m considering visiting charity shops and recycling centres in Dundee, to interview staff about what percentage of their customers are art students, buying old ‘junk’ to use in their art. I feel this would give my research a fresh insight and provide a modern and relatable side to the argument.

I’d like my dissertation to be centred around a mature understanding of this medium and be able to convey a clear argument. I’d also like for it to be of interest to members of the general public who perhaps feel they don’t understand contemporary art. I’d like for people to be able to read this piece and take some knowledge and appreciation away from it.

Artist’s Statement

A wee bit of official stuff for you! This week there’s a Recorded Tutorial. Basically we’ve to present the current state of our studio work and talk about our progress complete with a written report on what we’re doing and intend to do. Its a bit wordy and maybe a bit too ‘arty’ for some, but thats art school…

This semester my work has taken the form of Assemblage Art. Having scavenged and collected a store of objects from human teeth to a pair of 1919 binoculars, I was drawn to the overall concept of ‘free association’, an unconscious associating of seemingly unrelated objects. In the summer of this year I began collecting old encyclopaedias’. These books fascinated me with the apparent jumble of issues; academic tutorials on physics would be followed by an article on ‘How to Bake a Chicken Pie’. I am interested in the idea of seemingly unrelated issues being channeled together and therefore being assigned a common theme. Although the issues in these books did not flow by subject matter, their common factor was simply that they had been bound together in this book for others to observe. This excited my interest in documenting and presentation, I have always been fascinated by the ability to simply change a setting and thereby completely alter a context; one of the most famous examples of this would be Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’.


When something is put into a gallery space, and even more so when it is put into an isolated framework, the level of significance and the way in which it is viewed is completely changed. In my artwork I have a great interest in framing and documenting smaller works, I enjoy the importance this isolation can bring a found object.  I have previously worked in photo frames and large boxes, I wanted to advance my study in third year by moving onto more solid capsules. The construction and form of these capsules is of great importance to the overall aesthetic of the piece and therefore a significant amount of time has been dedicated to making six circular wooden boxes. The technical structure of these capsules has so far been the biggest challenge this semester. I have been making good use of the advice and resources offered in the Fine Art Workshop and my technical skills have progressed greatly. Making the capsules for this project has been time consuming and challenging. However, I am happy with the final form these have taken and am now eager to arrange and assemble scenes within them.                                                                There is an intricacy to encasing logically unconstructed ideas within a solid structure. With the objects being seemingly unrelated in any other context, the viewer is given a freedom and opportunity to perceive their own relationships as well as enjoying the spontaneity of the visual itself.                                                                                                  I have found inspiration when creating this project from the works of Christian Boltanski and Arman (who’s work I was able to view at the Pompidou) with their ability to assign emotion to regular objects such as biscuit boxes and lightbulbs. Also, the work of Will MacClean was brought to my attention when visiting the City Art Centre earlier this year, out of the many assemblage artists I have researched his subtle compositions are some of the most affecting.


Having collected objects, text, photographs, printed images and produced drawings and mini assemblages over the course of the semester I feel my work is now at the more experimental stage of seeing what ‘works’ in my final capsules. The piece is centered on the action of storing and keeping fragments of objects and text, I feel memory is always a theme therefore that emerges in the overall concept. This idea of maintaining images and layering fragments is reminiscent of the mind and its ability to recall and retain. So, in their visual representation of free association, my assemblages are commenting on the unconscious mind as a collector.                                                                                             I have made plans of each box, each with its own identity, however, I prefer a more physical approach when it comes to this stage of the assemblage. When making the capsule structures, rigid plans were necessary for the success of the construction, but in the installation of the content within the boxes, I feel a ‘trial and error’ approach is more efficient.                                                                                                                                     I feel the concept itself allows for context to emerge and grow as the work does. When placing objects together, narratives and relationships are formed in a more natural way. I am on schedule with the development of this project, there is still a lot to be done, but I am confident and enthusiastic about the final outcome.