Reflection - Perception : Frame : Context : Gallery display : Framing the (in)visible : Structure / by Ally McGinn

Perception : Frame : Context : Gallery display : Framing the (in)visible : Structure


These words all stem from a fascination with Derrida's parergon. (A fuller post about that can be found here).

The important thing to articulate here is that the frame is both physical (which can be a literal frame but also includes elements of curation, location and presentation) and metaphysical (seen here as the context, concept and form of the work).

The two combine to form a foundation upon which the work sits, forming and informing the way the work is interpreted and understood. In this way these words are tied to meaning.

In many ways this duality forms the underlying interest that drives my work. The framing, or reframing in many cases, of visual information as art, and the possibilities that entails, is something I find incredibly interesting.

Through the process of reframing almost anything ‘Art’ can be found, which has profound implications on the understanding of what art is, and its function. While general these interests are something that drives me.

The context of a work is individual and unique to that work. It is not only formed of information contained within the work, or even information contained within the artist. It is also comprises information and detail about the world at the time of making, history leading up to that time and concerns for the future. The potential contextual information is limitless, it depends on the viewpoint and chosen perspective.

In my practice I make use of the existing context in the recontextualisation of objects.

I've included ‘gallery display’ in this list because the way works are shown, and the environment in which they are shown, has a great influence on the work.

This is something I plan to explore in the coming months, primarily in the form of practical research. (What I would normally call studio research, but as it will be based out of the studio it needs an alternative label.)

One of the chapters in my dissertation is dedicated to the curational period of an artworks life, where we find the gallery.

A gallery is an institution through which art is observed and experienced. It is a specific place. In Strange Tools the author suggests that art galleries, like religious institutions, are spaces where anything can happen because nothing happens. This is an interesting idea, and one that highlights the importance of the internal space of the viewer.


Framing the in(visible)

This term is closer to a personal idiom. It emphases the dichotomy between visible and invisible.

It speaks about the presentation of object and subject. Artwork and context.

It describes both art, at a very basic level, and my practice.

I think I want to write more about this phrase.


Structure. One of the original words I chose to describe my ongoing focus.

This word was initially inspired by De Saussure's semiotic enquiry into the structure of language (the relationship between subject and object) and the subsequent development of post-structuralist theory; that examines the underlying structures within any human activity.

It expands from research begun in ‘Strange Tools’ which shared a similar emphasis on the organisational structures of human activities, both passive and active.
It also implies a solid object or form, supporting something else. Much like Danto’s Artworld and Derrida’s ‘Parergon’.

I do not use this word in it's specific form, and therefore it is not the correct word. I do not mean the physical structure, but the imposed metaphysical structures, which are largely myths in some form, that we use to shape our reality.

Including the reality of art.

It references myth, assumption, interpretation, meaning, function and organisation.



This group of words seems to encompass a few of the concerns I have been thinking through in the studio.

I am unsure whether it needs further research into specifics, or whether that information is percolating and should be left to manifest.

More writing on this reflection is required before areas of research can be pinpointed.