‘Dialectics of the Image – “the Structure of Commentary” – Process as Montage’

‘Dialectics of the Image – “the Structure of Commentary” – Process as Montage’

Residency with Ruth Legg, Kunsthuis SYB, Friesland, The Netherlands, July-August 2011.

Project description and proposal.

My research aims to consider the possibility of writing in imagining the visual, the identification of an artwork through notions of reading and negotiations of ‘textuality’ in the encounter of art as part of a legacy within the art historical cannon. By testing the ability of the ocular and it’s relevance in the moment of perception my practice aims to explore the potential for experiencing the work of art as separate from the discourse and narrative that surrounds it.

In order to approach an artwork we relate to a descriptive and relatable language in order to render something real. By attempting to imagine the possibility of the visual through modes of writing renders concepts of conceptual in art practice, referencing the trace of absence, memory, fiction, and the image as something separate from an art historical discourse.

As with art where the subject or the artwork itself might be found in the concept rather than a physical object, the artwork present at the moment of realisation is the results of a process of imagining what can not in total be seen; as Sartre implies when suggesting that the image is made up of a moment or moments of thought (“knowledge conscious of itself, which places itself at once in the centre of the object”) and perception (“a synthetic unity of a multiplicity of appearances.”) (Satre, J-P, The Imaginary: A phenomenological psychology of the imagination, 1940). With all art, one could ague that there is an element of the unseen that is always present by its absence from the space of encounter.

By thinking through written language, I am exploring the potential and limitations of the ocular in the perception of art. By exploring the potential of what can be seen and what we imagine seeing through writing in essays or presented as performance, I am aiming to think of art through modes of ‘ textuality’. As my research has developed this last year or so, I have come to realize the possibilities and limitation of language and have attempted to push what it is to think in language through a consideration of aural and oral in the perception of the visual.

I plan to use this invitation from Ruth Legg to explore the potential of themes within my research, by taking ideas and conversations with Ruth in preparation of her residency in order to imagine what the resulting artwork made will consist of. This piece of writing may also reflect upon ideas about the residency, modes of communication taking place over the six weeks Ruth is in residence etc, in order to create an interpretation of the final artwork that tests the parameters of knowing and not-knowing and how different readings form disparate ideas surrounding one event. Inevitably own subjective position and research will infiltrate this attempt at a response and I develop a presentation in a form that Ruth and I have decided upon for presenting my own research. I hope that this will result in a performance and written documentation developed with Ruth Legg.

Final Presentation, supporting text.

– Dialectics of the image – image as text – text as image – “the structure of commentary” – process as montage-continuous – some notes of introduction –

All the elements that make up this presentation surround the paper that you will hear this evening. The text aims to address themes, concepts and ideas that have arisen before and during my visit to Friesland as I have attempted to imagine a response to Ruth’s final project and the result artwork from her six week residency, that you will see this evening. This comes as a response to my encountering some of her previous work and as a way of thinking how I might bring my own research interests and PhD project to the residency.

Here I act as a writer, an author, an art historian or an “art writer” depending on how you feel. In general however, I would say that my work is a writing that responds to both art practice and art theory, that allows for convergence and confusion with sources that are not necessarily accredited as being part of the discourse of art history or art theory. This paper is therefore related to the visual and aural montage that I have created for this exhibition, which represents my thought process, research and experience while staying in Friesland for two weeks. The films you see are part of my research, an insight into how I have come to placing words and sentences together in the paper. Here you will find source material that might relate to conversations I have had since being here, extracts of my own research and writing, of readings I have perhaps begun and never finished, films of artworks that I have recorded or sourced from websites, and non-artworks that represent the personal and professional engagement during the past two weeks. The montage is not an artwork, but rather a visual representation of my thought process that has resulted in the visual essay that will be presented.

Art research is determined by our individual working process, as well as the environment we find ourselves placed to conduct this. It is determined by how we come to this creative space, whether conceptual or physical – be it through a residency or, as I find is often the case, on a train with a book, or in a gallery encountering the artwork. These spaces of creative production are determined by factors that form or support this, which might be social, political or monetary depending on your perspective. As consequence of thinking and discussing this, I was planning to present two papers. Perhaps one that would be printed for you to take away and one presented as performance. These papers would be, firstly, my interpretation or reading of Ruth’s project. The second, some kind of text about my own research that would function as a separate element. How this could remain separate and at what point the separation was made became problematic and realised fairly early on in the first week of being here that one would obviously be a result of, or result in, the other.

So here is the result of that confusion, which might leave you confused also, as it probably has left me. We will see when I get to thinking through this as a part of my own research and perhaps as something that I hope Ruth and I may continue working on together in the future.