My Practice

Research - Heidegger by Ally McGinn

Martin Heidegger is considered one of the leading philosophers of the 20th century. Heidegger was a prolific writer, influential in many fields of study, whose main field of interest was ontology and the nature of being. (Bolt, 2011) This post offers a brief introduction to his work, theories and a few key points in relation to my practice.

This text began as a short overview but has gotten more complex as I've engaged with Heidegger's writings more.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Enframed . found objects, emulsion paint, gold frame and canvas, 250 x 120 x 50 cm approximately.

Ally McGinn (2017) Enframed. found objects, emulsion paint, gold frame and canvas, 250 x 120 x 50 cm approximately.

Daniel Parker sums up Heidegger's preoccupation as “from beginning to end, Heidegger’s thinking revolved around this one basic question of the meaning of being...When Heidegger investigates art he does not do so to determine its characteristics as a specific and isolated region of human experience, but as a possible clue to decipher the meaning of being” (Palmer, 1998)

--

In ‘Being and Time’ Heidegger referred to subjects and objects as ‘beings’. Heidegger defines many types of beings in our world, where humans are the only ones who care about the nature of their own being.

Heidegger saw this self-referential thinking as something that marked human beings as separate from the other beings, and as an attempted stand against the flow of time.

This text highlights the important factor of ‘being-in-the-world’ and ‘being-with-others’ (Bolt, 2011) which are both ways of describing an important fact of our being; that we exist in relationship with our surroundings and are formed and informed by those relationships.

This directly challenges the notion of ‘distance’ from theory, as the theory is so inexorably linked to the physical that it cannot be undone. Heidegger views this perspective as an unattainable objective, which would seem to fit with the poststructuralist perspective.

In trying to find an objective distance we are ignoring our ‘thrownness’ which Heidegger explains as a term describing our ‘real’ lives and the experience of living in the world. (Bolt, 2011)

Heidegger uses the term ‘Dasein’ translated as ‘there being’ (Bolt, 2011) and meaning both human beings and the state of being, which he saw as indistinguishable from one another.

Daseins are individual and yet interrelate with one another.

Dasein has a ‘throwness’, in which we are thrown into a world that is mostly uncontrollable, wholey so at first, and we are left to find our way. Our circumstances, especially in early life, but also later, can be described as chance, and the combination of these factors are what Heidegger termed, our ‘facticity’. (Bolt, 2011)

‘Throwness’ is a term that is related to experience with others, and being in these constant relating experiences with others can overtake our own sense of self until ‘I’ becomes ‘they’. (Bolt, 2011)

This sense of ‘they’ is important in understanding human nature and the societies we live in, which are based on assumptions and perspectives of ‘they’.

In art, we often respond to our ‘thrownness’ and we are certainly formed by the ‘facticity’ of our lives. When seen in this way the relationship of this deconstructed, interrelated, narrative to Derrida and Danto’s theories about the nature of the interiority and exteriority of art (that the artwork doesn't exist in separation from its context) seems obvious.

Daesin is an interesting term because of its tendency towards self-fulfilment. A term Heidegger refers to as ‘projection’ (Bolt, 2011) which I've taken as; the ways ‘beings’ (who are in daesin at all times) explore and react to the world around them through a process of ‘being’. Our ‘facticity’ ‘projects’ a daesin’s ‘being’ through in a process of continual ‘thrownness’.

Note - I could be wrong here, Heidegger is dense and subjective, but that's my interpretation of it.

Further note - ‘throwness’ can never be in the future, it is the nature of our present. (Bolt, 2011)

Heidegger saw a distinction between everyday daesin and daesin, which can be seen as the difference between being, and questioning that being. (Bolt, 2011) The act of being in everyday terms obstructs the ontological examination of being. Heidegger sees this as a form of inauthenticity, an objective term that is a fact of life as a being. An authentic experience of daesin is one of contemplation of self.

--

Heidegger and other philosophers have noted a distinction between human ‘beings’ and other ‘beings’ but many agree that objects have a ‘being’. This reminder serves to note that when Heidegger is speaking about ‘being’ and the reliance upon ‘being-in-the-world', those theories can be applied to other types of ‘being’ (with varying degrees of success) including artworks.

In ‘Being and Time’, Heidegger posits the relationship between caring and being. “I care, therefore I am” (Steiner, 1978: 101). Without a form of caring we wouldn't exist, if we experienced an encompassing apathy we would stop moving, interacting, being.

Descartes posited ‘I think therefore I am’ beginning a philosophical stance that pronounces the thought as the only truly ‘knowable’ fact.

Heidegger highlights the impossibility of this statement, we cannot detach ourselves from reality enough to make this distinction. We are in the world and therefore our experience of it, and thoughts about it, are inextricably linked to it, as are all other ‘beings’, artworks included. (Bolt, 2011) This is a stance that resonates deeply with me, and a perspective I have long had without necessarily being able to articulate it.

In ‘The Essence of Truth’ he proposed the idea of caring as a catalyst for truth. (Stanford, 2015) (the word caring, as above, is seen as an interest of some kind) To Heidegger, you must care about something before you can know the truth about it, another resonating thought. Our being exists in the universe, with numerous external influences happening constantly, our interest is drawn, which leads to the uncovering of truth.

Truth is rarely something easily seen and is more often read or interpreted. In this way caring can also be described as an effort, I think, in that we must first engage with something to comprehend the truth of it, which takes an effort of some kind.

The overwhelming amount of ‘things’ to care about, even in daily life, leads Heidegger to compare being alive “to be[ing] surrounded by the hidden.” (Stanford, 2015)

I like this perspective on truth, as it acknowledges an element of autonomy in truth, that it can objectively exist, to some extent, external to the human perceiving it, and it therefore re can be discovered in some way.

Heidegger wrote extensively on the notion of the hidden, and in relation to art - which he saw as a process of revealing the hidden. (Stanford, 2015)

In his essay ‘The Origin of the Work of Art’ published in 1950, Heidegger rejected earlier views of aesthetics, and art, as imitation or reflection, aligning it instead with ideas of truth and beauty. This essay shows once more Heidegger's view art objects can be seen as objectifications of truth, a way to reveal “that which is”. (Heidegger, 2008)

Heidegger describes the relationship between artist and artwork as a dynamic, which can be compared to Derrida’s description of the frame. "The artist is the origin of the work. The work is the origin of the artist. Neither is without the other. Nevertheless, neither is the sole support of the other." (Heidegger, 2008)

Art is separate from the two again, Heidegger saw art as the source for both artwork and artist. In this way, art becomes both the origin of and the goal for the artist and artwork, a cyclical dynamic relationship. A view I find particularly interesting, and something that has inspired a great deal of thinking.

This separation of artwork(object), artist(subject) and art(process) has been discussed further by the modern understanding of visual culture, and the semiotic interpretation of it. That meaning is external to the work as well as internal (or both as Derrida argued) is widely accepted, Heidegger seems to advocate the necessity of understanding the separation and the reliance of each upon the others.

Viewing art as both origin and goal leads to a confusing cyclical thought process about which came first, and how the relationship works exactly. Trying to find the essence of artwork and artist would seem to be a route to finding the essence of art. Heidegger chooses to try for the artwork first, as it is seemingly more concrete than their human counterparts. (Stanford, 2015)

According to Heidegger, and others, artworks can be defined through a set of traits but must be a ‘thing’ in themselves. The definition of a ‘thing’ seems to vary massively. (Stanford, 2015)

This appears to relate to Wittgenstein's ‘family resemblance’ theory.

--

Being an artist i am primarily interested in Heidegger's theories of aesthetics. Heidegger saw art as something with an inherent value, as an activity, in addition to the value found in the experience of art. He argued that art has a purpose in terms of history, and a form of marking ‘being’ and truth in culture. (Stanford, 2015)

In simple terms he saw the value of art as more than an appreciation of aesthetics, and that by reducing art to a form of sensory entertainment we are missing much of its true value, and purpose in the development of consciousness and understanding of beings.

Artworks are more than simple memesis, they are steps in the meaning of what it is to exist.

It could be described as; Art is the science of the senses. The -ology of the senses, using the senses.

“modern aesthetics is born of the aspiration to be “in the field of sensuousness what logic is in the domain of thinking” (Stanford, 2015)

--

Heidegger related art and philosophy to ‘movement’, as both a need to be aware of habitual behaviours and a deeper exploration of the ways beings create and interact with art and philosophy. (Bolt, 2011)

This is a thought I plan to return to as it is an exploration of these behaviours where I find my process sits.

--

In “The Age of the World Picture,” (1938) Heidegger postulates the possible implications of relegating art solely to aesthetic concerns. When “art gets pushed into the horizon of aesthetics,” he suggests that it pushes the artwork into an objectification of experience, which counts as an expression of human life. (Stanford, 2015)

I would argue that it also gives art a finite purpose, in the experience of the moment and for the gain of the subject, which, while often true is not always the case.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Plinth painting . Paintings. 40 x 40 x 60 cm.

Ally McGinn (2017) Plinth painting. Paintings. 40 x 40 x 60 cm.

One of the most critical terms I have come across while researching Heidegger is ‘poiesis’ which can be defined as the work existing in a place of balance between the poetic and the enframed.

The enframed comes from the word ‘Gestell’ meaning framing. (Bolt, 2011) Which, much like Derrida's ‘Parergon’, is a literal or metaphysical construct that shapes the way we view or experience something, in this case, an artwork. Bolt compares the ‘gestell’ to a window frame or skeleton, so as something that supports and underpins the ‘subject’ but remains distinct from it, or hidden in light of the true ‘subject’.

Many artists would consider this contextualising, however, it also includes elements of practice, emotion, location etc.

The poetic state of practice is the fluid and flowing creative status an artist reaches, while working, which allows the revealing of hidden truths in the work, or in its process, that potentially lead to the ‘final’ ‘artwork’.

To Heidegger, this state is what an artist is aiming for, and can be described as the pinnacle of artistic achievement. (Bolt, 2011)

The important factor is that art sits in the Venn space between the two and that the artists practice winds on a route between the two.

This is something that I've been edging around recently, it has come up in lectures, tutorials and studio practice, as the idea of what practice is.

This is a very important point for my practice and an articulate description of the way I work in the studio.

--------

Without getting too bogged down by other concerns it's something to note that there is a great deal of controversy over his Nazi affiliations. Last year new evidence came to light that leaves no doubt that Heidegger was not only a sympathiser but a true believer. (Rothman, 2014) (Zielinski, 2016)

The debate about the impact of his anti-semitism on the validity of his philosophical works seems to be ongoing, and not something I'm going to discuss here, however, it is certainly something to bear in mind, especially given how affirming I have found reading his works to be. Personally, I like to think that the work someone does can exist, to an extent, in separation from the person they were/are.

The idea, and whether it resonates, is more important than the speaker.

--

Interesting term - ‘Praxial’

Comes from the word ‘praxis’ which is defined by Aristotle as process/practice distinguished from and yet intertwined with, theory.

The Cambridge dictionary defines it as “ the process of using a theory or something that you have learned in a practical way”.

An important term in art. Art, certainly in my practice, is an act of praxis.

--

Reflection

Researching Heidegger has shown an interesting perspective on the production and interpretation of art. I began this research after hearing about the idea of the space between the enframed and poetic. However, the research has led to something more.

Heidegger not only explored ‘being’ but embraced the reality of it. His theories around ‘being’ rely and impress on us that we are already ‘being’. Practice and theory combined.

The main thing that this research, and the writing of this text, has shown me is that there is a lot more research to be done. Heidegger, and reading through the rest of ‘Heidegger Reframed’ forms part of my ongoing research plans.

Bibliography

Bolt, B (2011) Heidegger reframed. London: I.B. Tauris.

Heidegger, M; trans. David Farrell Krell (2008). "The Origin of the Work of Art". Martin Heidegger: The Basic Writings. New York: HarperCollins.

Palmer, D. (1998) ‘Heidegger and the ontological significance of the work of art’, British Journal of Aesthetics, vol. 38 no.4, pp. 394-412.

Rothman, J. (2014) Is Heidegger contaminated by nazism? [Online] The New Yorker. Available from: https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/is-heidegger-contaminated-by-nazism [Accessed - 21.11.17].

Stanford (2015) Heidegger’s Aesthetics. [Online] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Available from :  https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/heidegger-aesthetics/ [Accessed - 02.11.17].

Steiner, G (1978) Martin Heidegger. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Stulberg, R (1973) Heidegger and the Origin of the Work of Art: An Explication, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol 32 no.2, pp, 257-265.

Zielinski, L (2016) In His Own Words [Online] The Paris Review. Avaliable from: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2016/10/18/in-his-own-words/ [Accessed - 21.11.17].

Studio Research - Week 11 by Ally McGinn

This week we held our MA Open Studios event. So much of the week was taken with presentation tests and adjustments. 

A fairly logistical week, but with quite a few contextual developments. (Detailed on other posts)

Ally McGinn (2017)  Studio Mushroom.  [Working Title]. Studio detritus. Size varies, approximately 5 x 5 x 2 cm.   This piece is more about the perceptual association of a mushroom than a pre-conceived idea or inspiration from nature. 

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio Mushroom. [Working Title]. Studio detritus. Size varies, approximately 5 x 5 x 2 cm. 

This piece is more about the perceptual association of a mushroom than a pre-conceived idea or inspiration from nature. 

Ally McGinn (2017) Open studios view. 6.12.17.  This is the final view of my set up for the Open Studios event. None of the working elements of the studio were removed, and it was interesting to see the engagement people had with that element of things.  The differences between studio and gallery can be seen in situ here. The difference is part of the work and it gives insight into the mind of the artist, and the working process of creating art. I think this is an interesting point for the work, as I am interested in the communication of perceptual questions. Seeing all the elements I have considered for inclusion in the work questions why those elements were chosen while inspiring a transitory state for these objects; the idea that it could change at any moment.  I would be interested to explore the idea of changing an element of the installation between each day of an exhibition. 

Ally McGinn (2017) Open studios view. 6.12.17.

This is the final view of my set up for the Open Studios event. None of the working elements of the studio were removed, and it was interesting to see the engagement people had with that element of things. 
The differences between studio and gallery can be seen in situ here. The difference is part of the work and it gives insight into the mind of the artist, and the working process of creating art. I think this is an interesting point for the work, as I am interested in the communication of perceptual questions. Seeing all the elements I have considered for inclusion in the work questions why those elements were chosen while inspiring a transitory state for these objects; the idea that it could change at any moment. 
I would be interested to explore the idea of changing an element of the installation between each day of an exhibition. 

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio documentation.   A detail shot of the space behind the canvas wall, a space of storage and potential.   There is something brilliant about this. It is an organic, aesthetically unconsidered (for the most part) installation. Ordered chaos. 

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio documentation. 

A detail shot of the space behind the canvas wall, a space of storage and potential. 

There is something brilliant about this. It is an organic, aesthetically unconsidered (for the most part) installation. Ordered chaos. 

Ally McGinn (2017) Reading a painting, process shot.   Binding this painting into a book is progressing well. The book is bound with a handmade linen hardback cover. The process is being documented in  'Reading a Painting'.   This book was easily the most conversational element of my installation, at least during the evening of the Open Studios.  It drew interaction and questions from viewers. Which is something I'm going to consider.  I have explored many of the reasons for making this book in the post ‘Reading a Painting’ but I enjoy the dichotomy of choice and focus that it brings to the viewer; they can choose which pages to linger on (and do) and yet they are focussing on individual elements more than they might at a distance.  It forces a physical interaction with painting.  I would like to replicate this process on a representational painting.  This exploration is ongoing.

Ally McGinn (2017) Reading a painting, process shot. 

Binding this painting into a book is progressing well. The book is bound with a handmade linen hardback cover. The process is being documented in 'Reading a Painting'.

This book was easily the most conversational element of my installation, at least during the evening of the Open Studios.

It drew interaction and questions from viewers. Which is something I'm going to consider.

I have explored many of the reasons for making this book in the post ‘Reading a Painting’ but I enjoy the dichotomy of choice and focus that it brings to the viewer; they can choose which pages to linger on (and do) and yet they are focussing on individual elements more than they might at a distance.

It forces a physical interaction with painting.

I would like to replicate this process on a representational painting.

This exploration is ongoing.

Ally McGinn (2017) Open studios view. 6.12.17.  Painting an addition onto the floor of ' Enframed'.   This piece began with the grey elements. As a form of equalising the materials while disguising their primary qualities.  The frame came into the work, partly, as a result of reading Heidegger. The golden frame is garish, and many people dislike it, but I enjoy the juxtaposition of Matt grey against the dusky shine of the golden frame.  The canvas behind the frame brings this piece firmly into the world of painting while highlighting its spatial qualities and materially enlarging the space of the work.

Ally McGinn (2017) Open studios view. 6.12.17.

Painting an addition onto the floor of 'Enframed'.

This piece began with the grey elements. As a form of equalising the materials while disguising their primary qualities.

The frame came into the work, partly, as a result of reading Heidegger. The golden frame is garish, and many people dislike it, but I enjoy the juxtaposition of Matt grey against the dusky shine of the golden frame.

The canvas behind the frame brings this piece firmly into the world of painting while highlighting its spatial qualities and materially enlarging the space of the work.

Ally McGinn (2017) Open studios view. 6.12.17.  One of the small interventions I placed around the studios.  The bottles are filled with studio dust, during the stages of turning it into paint, and a collection of screws. The photo is a water mark on the floor after stretching a canvas.  The combination of the material and the representational form a representation of the process in a studio.  They were placed on a conduit on the wall, at chest height (bearing in mind I'm 5ft 4). The arrow is pointing to a fire exit but is repurposed here to direct the gaze to the ‘Art’.

Ally McGinn (2017) Open studios view. 6.12.17.

One of the small interventions I placed around the studios.

The bottles are filled with studio dust, during the stages of turning it into paint, and a collection of screws. The photo is a water mark on the floor after stretching a canvas.

The combination of the material and the representational form a representation of the process in a studio.

They were placed on a conduit on the wall, at chest height (bearing in mind I'm 5ft 4). The arrow is pointing to a fire exit but is repurposed here to direct the gaze to the ‘Art’.

Ally McGinn (2017) Open studios view. 6.12.17.  One of the small interventions I placed around the studios.  Is this sculpture or fruit painted grey, repurposed into purposelessness. A definition of art.

Ally McGinn (2017) Open studios view. 6.12.17.

One of the small interventions I placed around the studios.

Is this sculpture or fruit painted grey, repurposed into purposelessness. A definition of art.

Ally McGinn (2017) Open studios view. 6.12.17.  One of the small interventions I placed around the studios. My daughters reaction to this piece will be the subject of one of my final posts.

Ally McGinn (2017) Open studios view. 6.12.17.

One of the small interventions I placed around the studios. My daughters reaction to this piece will be the subject of one of my final posts.

Ally McGinn (2017) Open studios view. 6.12.17.  One of the small interventions I placed around the studios, this one remained on my desk.   Frame.

Ally McGinn (2017) Open studios view. 6.12.17.

One of the small interventions I placed around the studios, this one remained on my desk. 

Frame.

Research - Marxism, Capitalism and the Frankfurt School. by Ally McGinn

Something I have only recently been exploring in research is the impact capitalism has on our society. It is something I have explored in other areas of my life, but have not associated those opinions with my work. As usual, in retrospect, this seems like an oversight. This post serves as a short note to my burgeoning interest in this complex subject, it in no way summarises it, but it dents the surface.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Untitled.  Digital prints, basket and elastic bands. Size varies [Prints are 6 x 4 and 5 x 5]. 

Ally McGinn (2017) Untitled. Digital prints, basket and elastic bands. Size varies [Prints are 6 x 4 and 5 x 5]. 

Marxism is a set of thoughts, to which many subscribe, that describe the class-based system of a capitalist (our) society. Marxism shows that the forces of production and class struggle influence the ideological structure of our society. We are demanding beings, and we create things or buy things, to fulfil those demands. The needs we have are largely determined by our class, and the information we take in that shapes our subconscious assumptions and biases. (Woodfin, 2014)

Marxism suggests that the dominant class, in this case, the bourgeoisie, are able to shift things in their own favour, keeping them in power and the repressed, the proletariat, in the same position. (Woodfin, 2014)

That the ‘rich get richer’, another wording for the above, has enabled the dominant class to subsume surplus in our society, in the form of profit. This surplus, which implies a level of affluence that most working people do not feel, is used by those in power to retain and support the current sociological structure.

The reality is; we live in an affluent society. There is enough for everyone. The waste we produced is more shockingly lopsided when seen against the vast cases of people who lack the ‘basic’ things we need.

This surplus is coming from somewhere, and it comes at the cost of the workers. People whose only choice is to sell their labour.

Marxism suggests that history has been a series of oppression followed by revolution, leading back to oppression, where the cycle repeats. Marx suggests that a workers revolution in the west is coming. He goes on to suggest that one of the ways of breaking this cycle of oppression is to change things in that moment of revolution, to be aware of the oppression and affluence. Years later we can say that the revolution never came. (Woodfin, 2014)

The Frankfurt school were concerned with addressing shortcomings and predictions of Marxist thinking, that had yet, and have yet, to come true. When Marx predicted a workers revolution in the west he did not take into account the nature of capitalism, and it’s ability to convince the people inside it that it is what they want. (West, 2017)

We are alienated beings, which in a way is by design, but it is not the design of a single being or even an overriding group of beings, but by the society, we live in, and the people who live in it. It is a self-perpetuating society. (West, 2017)

We live in what Adorno and Horkheimer would call a society of Culture Industries. Where the culture in our lives is formed with a foundation of mass culture, as a result of being at the heart of a capitalist society. (West, 2017)

Many people describe feeling a void in their lives. More, arguably, are familiar with the idea that we have to work in a job we don't like in order to afford to live the way we want to live.
We live in an affluent society, but that affluence is not equally distributed. Economic control remains in the hands of those who have economic mobility, generally the bourgeoisie. (One of the many points that could be taken further here is the emergence of technology and the ability of those with low economic mobility to change that status - which is far higher than it has been previously. But that's a discussion for another time.

We work in jobs we generally don't like and do many other things we don't enjoy doing, in order to be able to afford the things that shape the quality of the rest of our lives.
We fill the void of alienation we feel, because of the shape of our societies, with ‘things’ but those ‘things’ cannot, and do not, fill the void. So the cycle repeats.
It may be possible to suggest that the cycle Marx described is now happening on an individual level. We realise something is missing, look for something to fill it, find adverts and other suggestions that we can fill it with some consumable thing, we attain that thing (this part of the process can take years) and then comes the inevitable realisation that the void is still there. We like this new ‘thing’ we have but it has not done what we were lead to believe it would do.

We shape a version of the people we want to be with ‘things’ around us. We use them to help us define ourselves. But those definitions and those ‘things’ define us far more by their semiotic significance than any apparent surface values.

“personality scarcely signifies anything more than shining white teeth and freedom from body odour and emotions. The triumph of advertising in the culture industry is that consumers feel compelled to buy and use its products even though they see through them.”

Adorno and Horkheimer (West, 2017)

The culture industry shapes the way we see things, the way we see ourselves, and the way we live. Therefore it follows that they shape all forms of creative output. (West, 2017)

Culture Industries can have a negative impact on the understanding of ‘good’ art. Not all art has to be seen as good by the majority, in fact, the opposite is likely true. The better works are actually more likely to be those that don’t fit the ideas of the majority. The effect of culture on mass media on art is the normalisation of it. It is a requirement of mass media that it fit the values or taste of thousands, potentially millions.

This shapes the work that is made at all levels.
Whether we like to admit it or not we are part of a capitalist society and it is extremely difficult to remove ourselves from that society. We must earn money to live, and this impacts the way we do things.

Reflection

What does all of this have to do with my work? The first impact relates to my general outlook and perspective. I can now describe myself confidently as a Marxist, I am against the capitalist society, and reject many forms of it in my home life. This is not a new thought inspired by research, but a development of a perspective born of a response to our society. What I have not explored before is the impact of that perspective on my work in the studio.

It is simple to see the most obvious link, the choice of materials and subject in the studio. I work with materials that have fulfilled, failed, or have yet to achieve, their purpose. I deal with accidental and incidental objects and observations, which reject the notion that we should focus on certain things and ignore others. We are a society of blinkered individuals, we look at the things we are supposed to look at and ignore those we don't.

My materials question purpose and function, which is then deepened by my process with the materials in the studio.

The other ways this perspective influences my work are numerous, and the more I explore the idea the more I find. This document has the potential to get much longer. I look forward to being able to use this perspective as a tool in the studio as well as a subconscious influence.

The power of research can be that it can highlight, articulate and solidify things we already think, and make us realise the connections inherent in being a thinking being.

Bibliography

West, S. (2017) ‘The Frankfurt School pt 3 - The Culture Industry’, Philosophize This!. [Podcast] Avaliable from : http://philosophizethis.org/episode-110-transcript/ [Accessed - 05.12.17].

Jeffries, S. (2012) ‘Why Marxism is on the rise again’. The Guardian. [Online]. Avaliable from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jul/04/the-return-of-marxism  [Accessed 6.12.17].

Woodfin, R. (2014) Introducing Marxism: A Graphic Guide. [e-book] London: Icon Books Ltd. Avaliable from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Introducing-Marxism-Graphic-Guide-ebook/dp/B00KFEK0FQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512506601&sr=8-1&keywords=marxism [Accessed 26.10.12].

Studio Research - Week 10 by Ally McGinn

This week involved a great deal of discussion, a shift in thinking, statement writing and logistic issues. 

Ally McGinn (2017)  Reflection . Paint tube, oil paint, photograph and pencil, 20 x 15 x 7 cm approximately.  This piece has evolved over the last few weeks. The source of its creation is hard to pinpoint in a single source. It shows, rather, the development of thought, and a focussing of idea. Documentation of the early stages of this piece can be found in week eight. I feel it is one of the most successful pieces, in an individual sense, created this term (and therefore on the MA so far). It is tempting here to contextually deconstruct this piece, but I find that I am reluctant to. Instead I will leave it here, in a digital space, to allow it its existence.

Ally McGinn (2017) Reflection. Paint tube, oil paint, photograph and pencil, 20 x 15 x 7 cm approximately.

This piece has evolved over the last few weeks. The source of its creation is hard to pinpoint in a single source. It shows, rather, the development of thought, and a focussing of idea.
Documentation of the early stages of this piece can be found in week eight.
I feel it is one of the most successful pieces, in an individual sense, created this term (and therefore on the MA so far).
It is tempting here to contextually deconstruct this piece, but I find that I am reluctant to.
Instead I will leave it here, in a digital space, to allow it its existence.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Painting  [Working Title]. Paint and studio dust, size varies.  This piece is a large paint skin, with dust collected from the studio over a period of three months. It is placed in such a way as to be ambiguous (although this would change in a gallery setting). Sadly it lived up to it's ambiguity, and was thrown away by a well intentioned anonymous party. There is something beautiful about that interaction.   The artwork had a choice based interaction with another person.

Ally McGinn (2017) Painting [Working Title]. Paint and studio dust, size varies.

This piece is a large paint skin, with dust collected from the studio over a period of three months. It is placed in such a way as to be ambiguous (although this would change in a gallery setting). Sadly it lived up to it's ambiguity, and was thrown away by a well intentioned anonymous party. There is something beautiful about that interaction. 

The artwork had a choice based interaction with another person.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Potentiality.  Canvas, paper, paint, ink, pencil and acorn, size varies.  This piece speaks most clearly about potentiality. The pencil line on the wall is a line from the smaller piece, but I hope it encourages the small question of, which piece is it hinting at.  The colour hidden behind grey (which is the same paint as the floor) is echoed in the materials involved. The colourful piece is a photocopy of an old work, it is stretched around nothing. The grey is traditionally made, with attention to detail, and a single colour.  The small seed is leaning between the wall and the work. It has cracked with age, mimicking the edge of the grey canvas. It's potentiality is undeniable and allegorical to the connection between artwork and context.  When placed in the installation it connects to the hidden storage of work behind the canvas wall, which also speaks about potentiality. Linking across the space in a metaphysical sharing of context.

Ally McGinn (2017) Potentiality. Canvas, paper, paint, ink, pencil and acorn, size varies.

This piece speaks most clearly about potentiality. The pencil line on the wall is a line from the smaller piece, but I hope it encourages the small question of, which piece is it hinting at.

The colour hidden behind grey (which is the same paint as the floor) is echoed in the materials involved. The colourful piece is a photocopy of an old work, it is stretched around nothing. The grey is traditionally made, with attention to detail, and a single colour.

The small seed is leaning between the wall and the work. It has cracked with age, mimicking the edge of the grey canvas. It's potentiality is undeniable and allegorical to the connection between artwork and context.

When placed in the installation it connects to the hidden storage of work behind the canvas wall, which also speaks about potentiality. Linking across the space in a metaphysical sharing of context.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Enframed.  Found objects, emulsion paint, gold frame and canvas, 250 x 120 x 50 cm approximately.  This piece has been discussed in the documentation of earlier weeks. Like ' Reflection' , this piece has evolved through a process of consideration and adjustment. The addition of this week is the painted floor, adding a full-stop to this conversation.

Ally McGinn (2017) Enframed. Found objects, emulsion paint, gold frame and canvas, 250 x 120 x 50 cm approximately.

This piece has been discussed in the documentation of earlier weeks. Like 'Reflection', this piece has evolved through a process of consideration and adjustment.
The addition of this week is the painted floor, adding a full-stop to this conversation.

Ally McGinn (2017)  A New Conversation  [Working Title]. Mixed media installation, size varies.  The pieces in my work are individual in a sense and yet remain part of a larger whole. If the installation is a conversation, the pieces inside it are sentences, the individual elements of pieces can be seen as words, and finishing the analogy the materials become letters.  This analogy leaves a lot to be desired but it serves for the purpose of this metaphor.

Ally McGinn (2017) A New Conversation [Working Title]. Mixed media installation, size varies.

The pieces in my work are individual in a sense and yet remain part of a larger whole. If the installation is a conversation, the pieces inside it are sentences, the individual elements of pieces can be seen as words, and finishing the analogy the materials become letters.

This analogy leaves a lot to be desired but it serves for the purpose of this metaphor.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Glitch.  Digital print.  Three shots amalgamated into one, by my camera. An incidental camera glitch. It's dark and the colouring is terrible for a traditional photo.  I love it.  A photography machine.

Ally McGinn (2017) Glitch. Digital print.

Three shots amalgamated into one, by my camera. An incidental camera glitch. It's dark and the colouring is terrible for a traditional photo.

I love it.

A photography machine.

Research - Brief - Chance and Incident in Art by Ally McGinn

My current theoretical research is mainly focussed on philosophy around what art is, but it would be remiss of me to ignore totally one of the fundamental influences and sources of my work.

Researching about what art is, enables me to explore ways to subvert our understanding of art in practical terms. Using chance and incidental elements in the studio is an act of subversion in itself. Unwanted and discarded elements invoke notions of potentiality, purpose and the everyday.

Many of the materials I use are obtained through or are objects of, chance. However, their use is not due to an interest in chance as a subject, but rather through their disassociation from choice or intention and the resulting dissociation in the artwork.

I am well known in shared studios for collecting unwanted materials, rubbish and works. Using these in my work is an important part of my process. Working with objects, traces or unnoticed elements encourages me to look at things differently. Focussing on things that normally remain unnoticed feeds not only the material of my practice but often ideas within it.

Using materials that are considered incidental extends their potentiality past the purpose they have fulfilled. My practice often juxtaposes these extended materials with those that have had their potential halted, never achieving what they could be, instead being subverted into an artwork (which admittedly then becomes their purpose).

In this way, chance is deeply associated with purpose and function within my work.

I've been looking at artists who use chance and incident in their work and to illustrate the importance of this idea in my practice I plan to explore two of those here.


John Cage

John cage is an artist and composer, known for his work with chance. Cage worked at a time when Abstract Expressionism was a major focus in contemporary art, he had a close friendship with other artists like Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. (Brown, 2001)

In his work 4’33” (1952) he used the ambient noise of a recital hall to create the music. (Inversen, 2010) The performer came onstage, and sat in front of a grand piano. Hands poised he played nothing for 4 minutes and 33 seconds, after which he left without saying anything. The audience did not know what to expect during the first performance and it only highlighted the purpose of the piece. (Inversen, 2010) What he composed was nothing but silence, the composition heard at each performance was made by the audience, by their shuffling, sighing or other noises.  He created a situation rather than a piece of music.  In the same ways, many artists try to create an experience.

This piece highlights the chance nature of artistic materials (in this case sounds) in the world around us and argues the case for the potential inclusion of any chance occurrence in art.

I could easily write a few thousand words on Cage and the implications of his practical research into chance and the unconsidered in the everyday, however, it will do to note here that he created exhibitions, artworks, compositions and ‘happenings’ that embraced the ideas of chance and what those ideas mean.

I’ll end this short note on a brilliant man with my favourite quote about music theory - "Which is more musical: a truck passing by a factory or a truck passing by a music school?" (Cage, 1961)

 

Natasha Kidd

Natasha Kidd (2017) Documentary photo of 'Overspill'. Paint Workshop. Bath.

Natasha Kidd (2017) Documentary photo of 'Overspill'. Paint Workshop. Bath.

Kidd is an artist who we are lucky enough to have as a lecturer at Bath Spa University. Her work has been an inspiration and she is the person responsible for the biggest compliment I have ever received about my work - that it made her consider the space we are in differently.

Her work is primarily concerned with painting machines, and working with painting in new ways. The main piece I want to discuss here is ‘Overfill’ which is a series of machines that pump white paint into the space behind a canvas. (Kidd, 2017) This space fills and the paint overspills through small holes at the top of the canvas, before returning to a reservoir underneath each painting.

The painting machines are displayed working, and the results become almost iconic remnants of these industrial explorations of paint. These explorations deny any expressionist or emotional influence. They speak about paint in its purest form and allow the paint to speak for itself. The machines and the resulting canvases are paintings but at the same time they are sculptural forms, and they speak about paint far more than a traditional (or many contemporary paintings) can.

I have been lucky enough to see this work a few times over the last few years. The machines, now dried, are in a few offices around the campus. One of them is currently running in the paint workshop at the university. The small hardened drips that form over months on the canvas had been chipped off, so the machine has been set up once more to reform these chance elements.

In an exhibition in 2000 called ‘Microswitch’ the machines were hydraulic and dipped an entire canvas into white paint and then pulled it up again to allow the excess to drip back into the vat of white. Again and again, the canvas is dipped by the hydraulics, adding layers of paint, covering the old remnants with the new. The show ran for 6 weeks, with the dipping running throughout. (Healy, Undated)

As the layers dry the paint forms inconsistencies and unique forms that cannot be replicated or anticipated because they are true forms of chance.  Each time this work is shown the result is different, the differences might be minute but they are there. Using white paint further highlights these small yet extremely important differences.  Because these differences are only affected by the machine and the paint itself the resulting effects are aesthetically organic.

The viewers are experiencing the creation process, live. In this way, the pieces are performative, with the machine as the performer.  The canvas then serves as a record of the performance.

Natasha Kidd, as the creator of the machine, has control in certain elements, the colour of paint, the timing of the dips etc but the resulting paintings have very little of her personal influence on them. The machine is the artist and the visual form is incidental.

Reflection

I could easily continue this post, I have conducted a great deal of research into ‘chance’, and there are numerous books and artists who have done the same.

This does not serve as a full view of this subject but instead uses two artists to serve as a note to the importance chance and the incidental in my practice.

Bibliography

Brown, K. (2001) John Cage Visual Art : To Sober and Quiet the Mind. San Francisco : Cambridge University Press.

Cage, J. (1961) Silence : Lectures and Writings. Wesleyan University Press.

Healy, J. (Undated) ‘Natasha Kidd: Microswitch’ [Online] Available from:  http://www.natashakidd.com/wp-content/uploads/micro-switch-whats-on-london-review.pdf [Accessed 28.11.17].

Iversen, M. (2010) Chance (Documents of Contemporary Art). MIT Press.

Kidd, N (2017) Natasha Kidd, Artists Talk. Bath Spa University. 21.11.17.

Reflection - The changing effect of perception. by Ally McGinn

I'm expecting this to be a long and convoluted text, and it comes from a discussion with my husband, who is interested in conceptual music and sound.

The moment an artwork is seen or experienced it is changed by that interaction.
This happens in two ways, firstly on the individual level - the individual artwork changes once it is seen, the viewer's interpretation, critical reception, contextual relation and curated exhibition affect the work and the interpretation of it. The second level is slightly more complex, and yet also individual, the level of continued practice for the individual experiencing the process of art (the artist).

Another way of saying this is that our practices change when people view them (or listen to them in my husband's case). This change can even occur when there is the potential for the artwork to be seen. (Although I would argue that much of this factor is reliant on an inhibition)

Whether that change is positive or negative is likely a subjective fact, it will differ in different cases, but it's worth noting that the change exists.

Artists, and by extension musicians and other creators, often describe trying to get ‘in the flow’ or ‘in the zone’. Which is linked to Heidegger's theories about the optimum state for art, which is in the area between the poetic and the enframed. In Heidegger's writings, the artist aims to exist in this state when creating art.

Through the contextualisation of my practice, my overabundant research and my own self-pressured methodology I have been enframing my practice, to the extent that I'm unable to reach the poetic.

Personal note - I need to stop reading, stop writing and start working for a few days at least.

This ideal state of working is not something to be achieved once and then ticked off, it is a state of the moment and often comes and goes (between the enframed and the poetic). Thinking about it in this way I can almost see which works I've made in the studio that have been linked more to enframing and poiesis, and the ‘good’ works are definitely those created in moments of poiesis.

The ‘moment’ relates once more to Heidegger, and his term ‘throwness’ which is about the moment of existence, constantly happening and happened.

Another perspective for the change that occurs upon viewing the work is through the human activities of art and music (and by extension others). In the book ‘Strange Tools,’ the author supposes two levels of human activity. The first is the primal, basic level, it is the things we as ‘beings’ do. This level includes dancing, communicating, creating sound, making art/images, running, and numerous other things. The second level is the organised activity of that act, including, choreography, writing, music, art, sports etc.

When thinking about the creation of art and the change that perception brings it would seem to lead that the level 2 activity of making ‘Art’ impacts the level 1 practice of making art. It's possible that we have achieved a level of ‘Artworld’ that means that the level 1 activity doesn't really exist anymore, but it feels more like, as Heidegger seems to suggest, that artists are tapping into the level 1 activity when they get ‘in-the-flow’.

Artists (and the extension applies once more) work with the level 1 experience, and then process it through a level 2 organisation to stimulate a level 1 experience in another person.

The other implication to the realisation that perception changes the ‘Art’, in both ways, is the link to the observer effect in quantum physics, in which the ‘observer affects the observed reality’. It seems obvious to state that I am not a quantum physicist, and so I won’t attempt to go into more detail here but the link is an interesting one that I would like to come back to.

Reflection/Impact

This line of thought has two influences. One is the contextual knowledge I have gained from writing this blog, I have directly quoted two texts and the understanding of others has led to this exploration. (Please see other blog posts for more details about this)

The other is a frustration at the issues I'm facing with an overabundance of context at the moment, a reflection on my research practice.

I’ve come to realise that I need to step back slightly and attempt to get back into the level 1 activities suggested here. Focussing on a practice of poiesis.

However, this realisation has led to an idea for a piece of work, which is a fact about my practice that I adore. It often inspires itself.

I'm intrigued to bring in ideas of hiding the work of art. If the experiential perception of an artwork changes when seen then we can mitigate that effect by implying the artwork without seeing it.

This is an idea I began to work with last year, by recording and presenting the artist's actions in the studio I invoked this idea of the unseen artwork. It’s also something I've been working back towards this year, however, this articulation of these ideas has led to me wanting to be more literal in the hiding of the artwork.
The context of these plans would be that - It is not in the artwork that we find the ‘Art’ but in the experience of making it, and the experience of viewing it. (both of which are arguably level 1 activities, at least in the moment) The later of which happens regardless, it is the experience of making it that I would like to extend to the viewer, the practice of process.

I believe hidden artworks, or hidden elements of them, would invoke that context. The artwork is implied, just as normally the act of making art is implied.

An additional thought to come back to later - ‘Art’ is a performative thing because it is the practice and process of art. The art object belongs to context?? (Way too assumptive, but maybe an interesting initial thought)

Studio Research - Week 9 by Ally McGinn

This week has been primarily involved in considering opinions for a crit next week, working in the workshops (please see 'reading a painting' post) and seminars and reading.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Grey.  Paper, canvas, paintbrush and glass. Size varies.

Ally McGinn (2017) Grey. Paper, canvas, paintbrush and glass. Size varies.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Grey.  Paper, canvas, paintbrush and glass. Size varies.

Ally McGinn (2017) Grey. Paper, canvas, paintbrush and glass. Size varies.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Untitled.  Pigment on canvas [Installation detail]. size varies.  Reconstructed canvas with pigment. A painting.

Ally McGinn (2017) Untitled. Pigment on canvas [Installation detail]. size varies.

Reconstructed canvas with pigment. A painting.

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio view.  When I removed all of the works from the wall, as I often do (much to the surprise of my studio colleagues who assume it is out of some sense of annoyance on my part. It's not. I'm simply turning to a fresh page of the sketchbook.) I was struck by the positioning of screws on the wall.  When moving into a new space, one that has been previously occupied by another artist, I place screws into places they have been before. I occosiaonally place other screws, when the posititioning of the work demands it.  With all the screws from a complicated installation laid bare, I realised I wanted to highlight them.  These threads are a reconstructed canvas. Reconstructed from some perspectives.  It is more about the placement of the threads than any conversation about them. They are a unifying element, one of three I suppose. The threads, the screws, and the holes in the wall.

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio view.

When I removed all of the works from the wall, as I often do (much to the surprise of my studio colleagues who assume it is out of some sense of annoyance on my part. It's not. I'm simply turning to a fresh page of the sketchbook.) I was struck by the positioning of screws on the wall.

When moving into a new space, one that has been previously occupied by another artist, I place screws into places they have been before. I occosiaonally place other screws, when the posititioning of the work demands it.

With all the screws from a complicated installation laid bare, I realised I wanted to highlight them.

These threads are a reconstructed canvas. Reconstructed from some perspectives.

It is more about the placement of the threads than any conversation about them. They are a unifying element, one of three I suppose. The threads, the screws, and the holes in the wall.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Untitled.  Photographs, basket and labels. Size varies.  This piece is an overly literal representation of the commercialism of the art world. My practice for sale.

Ally McGinn (2017) Untitled. Photographs, basket and labels. Size varies.

This piece is an overly literal representation of the commercialism of the art world. My practice for sale.

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio view.  I adore the intensity of the light in the studio in the mornings.

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio view.

I adore the intensity of the light in the studio in the mornings.

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio view.  Final set-up for the week. My plan is to explore photos of this set-up over the weekend to decide on the final adjusments before crit on Monday.  EDIT - I changed a few elements, taking the two paintings on the left off the wall, I placed them on the floor. I added a pencil line on the wall and to  Reflection.  Which I think finishes the piece. I also added three drill holes to the wall, which look unintentional but are completely aesthetic. 

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio view.

Final set-up for the week. My plan is to explore photos of this set-up over the weekend to decide on the final adjusments before crit on Monday.

EDIT - I changed a few elements, taking the two paintings on the left off the wall, I placed them on the floor. I added a pencil line on the wall and to Reflection. Which I think finishes the piece.
I also added three drill holes to the wall, which look unintentional but are completely aesthetic. 

Note/Thought - Meaning and Influence by Ally McGinn

Something i've only recently come to be able to articulate is the distance, although still connected, between the research i do (which informs and influences my work) and the meaning found in the work i create. The two are inextricably linked, but remain distinct from one another.

This is an important factor, as in previous years i have struggled to attempt to contain the research done in the context of the work, which can be detrimental to the creation of the work itself. To put it simply - there is a reason the two are different, and that reason separates the context of both, and it should be separate.

Studio Research - Week 8 by Ally McGinn

This is going to be an image heavy post. A truly seminal week in the studio this week, that will require a great deal of reflection. It appears that my plan to take time off to focus on context so that i could return focussed on studio was a success. 

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio view.  Empty frames with a balanced aesthetic.

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio view.

Empty frames with a balanced aesthetic.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Balanced Unbalanced  [Placement test]. Materials and size vary.  The idea of balance has come up throughout the last few months, or at least I have become aware of it.  It is found in many areas of life and I wouldn't be surprised if I one day believe that it is one of the foundations of reality.  I have been exploring the idea in the studio, which has brought a subtle vulnerability to the work.  It falls over, a lot. Occasionally onto me, or other works. There was one Rube Goldberg-esque moment in the studio of a chain reaction that I wish I had filmed. I'm unsure whether recreating it would be inauthentic. I'm unsure about inauthenticity.

Ally McGinn (2017) Balanced Unbalanced [Placement test]. Materials and size vary.

The idea of balance has come up throughout the last few months, or at least I have become aware of it.

It is found in many areas of life and I wouldn't be surprised if I one day believe that it is one of the foundations of reality.

I have been exploring the idea in the studio, which has brought a subtle vulnerability to the work.

It falls over, a lot. Occasionally onto me, or other works. There was one Rube Goldberg-esque moment in the studio of a chain reaction that I wish I had filmed. I'm unsure whether recreating it would be inauthentic. I'm unsure about inauthenticity.

Ally McGinn (2017) Presence Absence [Studio view].

Ally McGinn (2017) Presence Absence [Studio view].

Ally McGinn (2017) Presentation test [Studio view].  There are individual pieces in my practice, but the second part of their existence involves the exploration of them in relation to other works. This photo is a test of a conversation between the works. 

Ally McGinn (2017) Presentation test [Studio view].

There are individual pieces in my practice, but the second part of their existence involves the exploration of them in relation to other works. This photo is a test of a conversation between the works. 

Ally McGinn (2017)  Potential Process.  Canvas, frame and acorn. Size varies.

Ally McGinn (2017) Potential Process. Canvas, frame and acorn. Size varies.

Ally McGinn (2017)  pAINTing.  Canvas, wooden frame and paint. 25 x 25 cm.

Ally McGinn (2017) pAINTing. Canvas, wooden frame and paint. 25 x 25 cm.

Ally McGinn (2017) A test of balance [Studio view].  Another conversation test. 

Ally McGinn (2017) A test of balance [Studio view].

Another conversation test. 

Ally McGinn (2017) The equalising qualities of grey painting [Studio view].  Objects of various values, purposes and associations, equalised through process and a reduction of their primary qualities. 

Ally McGinn (2017) The equalising qualities of grey painting [Studio view].

Objects of various values, purposes and associations, equalised through process and a reduction of their primary qualities. 

Ally McGinn (2017)  PAINTING . Mixed media. Size varies.

Ally McGinn (2017) PAINTING. Mixed media. Size varies.

Ally McGinn (2017)  PAINTING.  Mixed media. Size varies.

Ally McGinn (2017) PAINTING. Mixed media. Size varies.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Deconstructed PAINTING . Mixed media. Size varies.

Ally McGinn (2017) Deconstructed PAINTING. Mixed media. Size varies.

Ally McGinn (2017) Deconstructed painting continued  [Studio view].

Ally McGinn (2017) Deconstructed painting continued  [Studio view].

Ally McGinn (2017) Detail shot of ' Deconstructed painting continued'

Ally McGinn (2017) Detail shot of 'Deconstructed painting continued'

Ally McGinn (2017) Threads on screws - this was an exploration of unifying the screws left in the wall by myself and other students. 

Ally McGinn (2017) Threads on screws - this was an exploration of unifying the screws left in the wall by myself and other students. 

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio View. 17.11.17

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio View. 17.11.17

Ally McGinn (2017)  Reflection.  Paint, tube and photo. Approximately 20 x 20 cm. 

Ally McGinn (2017) Reflection. Paint, tube and photo. Approximately 20 x 20 cm. 

Ally McGinn (2017) Leaning tests [Studio view].

Ally McGinn (2017) Leaning tests [Studio view].

Ally McGinn (2017)  Guyon.  Oil on canvas and masking tape, with frame. 120 x 50 cm.

Ally McGinn (2017) Guyon. Oil on canvas and masking tape, with frame. 120 x 50 cm.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Plinth painting . Paintings. 40 x 40 x 60 cm.

Ally McGinn (2017) Plinth painting. Paintings. 40 x 40 x 60 cm.

Ally McGinn (2017) Conversation test [Studio view].

Ally McGinn (2017) Conversation test [Studio view].

Ally McGinn (2017)  Stacked Balance.  Paintings on plinth. Size varies.

Ally McGinn (2017) Stacked Balance. Paintings on plinth. Size varies.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio view].  Something interesting is happening here, I can't quite define it yet but there is certainly an unintentional conversation that could use some perceptual contextualisation. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio view].

Something interesting is happening here, I can't quite define it yet but there is certainly an unintentional conversation that could use some perceptual contextualisation. 

Ally McGinn (2017)  Commodity  test  [Studio view].

Ally McGinn (2017) Commodity test  [Studio view].

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio view].  There is an interesting divide between 'studio' and 'gallery' in the space on Friday.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio view].

There is an interesting divide between 'studio' and 'gallery' in the space on Friday.

Research - Deconstructing Canvas - Part 2 by Ally McGinn

In an earlier post, I began to deconstruct canvas in the paint workshop. The resulting creations (mixed with various mediums) are still drying a month later. The results of this experimentation are going to continue, and the deconstruction itself has proved to be more useful, so far, than any resulting materials or objects.

Ally McGinn (2017) Workshop documentation. 24.10.17.  The experiments begun in October are drying, slowly. This result, combined with the cost of the mediums and the practicality of deconstructing canvas in this way lead towards a rethink about the potential for this process as large-scale sculpture. 

Ally McGinn (2017) Workshop documentation. 24.10.17.

The experiments begun in October are drying, slowly. This result, combined with the cost of the mediums and the practicality of deconstructing canvas in this way lead towards a rethink about the potential for this process as large-scale sculpture. 

Canvas is a traditional material in painting, although that is not where it originated (I'll come to that later, and has been a part of art culture for centuries.)

A functional material used in the creation of paintings, canvas has traditionally been an unseen support of painting. Clement Greenberg's theories of the pure truth of the flat surface of painting codify canvas in Modernist thought. (Greenberg, 2008) Any deviation from its function renders it a failure, within this perspective. A perspective that post-modernism and contemporary developments have rendered mostly moot. Painting is more than the flat surface it often retains, a stance explored by artists like Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Ryman, Fernanda Gomez and many, many others. We are seeing more often the canvas itself as the focus of the work, or at least it is no longer the hidden structure but a canonically validated artistic material in its own right.

In art, the word ‘canvas’ has two meanings. It can be described as both the fabric used over a stretcher, or the painting surface combined (including the stretcher, fabric and often primer). Canvas is a tool to be used by the artist, and increasingly an ideal to be subverted.

Tracing the roots of canvas through history leads to shipbuilding. Canvas was used in shipbuilding before it was used by artists. The most common canvas is ‘cotton duck’ which can be anecdotally back to its use as a sailcloth. (Please note, this information comes from a conversation with the, extremely knowledgeable, paint technician at Bath Spa, Tim Davies. This information cannot currently be referenced, but I trust the anecdote and am working on a reference for this information.)

I have been working with canvas, as a material and subject, in the studio. Working with it in this way it becomes something more than a hidden foundation of work. Using canvas in alternative ways diverts its purpose.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Cubes - form 4.  Canvas, with various marks, on wooden cubes. Size varies  Wrapping canvas around anything that is not a stretcher (tube or cube) challenges modernist theories of flatness, which in this case is in counterpoint to the chance surface that invokes abstract expressionism.

Ally McGinn (2017) Cubes - form 4. Canvas, with various marks, on wooden cubes. Size varies

Wrapping canvas around anything that is not a stretcher (tube or cube) challenges modernist theories of flatness, which in this case is in counterpoint to the chance surface that invokes abstract expressionism.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Fringe collection . Canvas with pigment. Size varies  Physically deconstructing the canvas transforms it into a state that both references and rejects its creation.  Kept from returning to its useful state, and stopped from it's intended use as a painting surface, the canvas questions what, and why, it is.

Ally McGinn (2017) Fringe collection. Canvas with pigment. Size varies

Physically deconstructing the canvas transforms it into a state that both references and rejects its creation.  Kept from returning to its useful state, and stopped from it's intended use as a painting surface, the canvas questions what, and why, it is.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Pile  [Ongoing performance]. ‘Found’ canvas. Size varies daily  While piling or shaping the canvas challenges both our reading of ‘painting’ and notions of value in painting.    By exposing the canvas to a non-permanent form we question its value as an object. Performance without the artist.

Ally McGinn (2017) Pile [Ongoing performance]. ‘Found’ canvas. Size varies daily

While piling or shaping the canvas challenges both our reading of ‘painting’ and notions of value in painting.  

By exposing the canvas to a non-permanent form we question its value as an object. Performance without the artist.

Ally McGinn (2017)  Studio.  Installation test view. Canvas with collected marks, stretchers, masking tape, acrylic paint and chair, size varies  Forcing the viewer to walk on the canvas, by placing it on the floor in a way that doesn’t allow any alternative, questions the value of the work, the moment of finishing and the way the viewer sees and interacts with the work.  Each use, or misuse, of canvas invokes a different conversation about the same subject.

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio. Installation test view. Canvas with collected marks, stretchers, masking tape, acrylic paint and chair, size varies

Forcing the viewer to walk on the canvas, by placing it on the floor in a way that doesn’t allow any alternative, questions the value of the work, the moment of finishing and the way the viewer sees and interacts with the work.

Each use, or misuse, of canvas invokes a different conversation about the same subject.

I hope this post shows the ways that subversion can be applied to an element of artistic practice to form new conversations and perspectives on the things we assume or otherwise take for granted in art.

Bibliography

Marriner, R. (2015) Making and the Contemporary. Bath Spa University. October-December 2015.

Greenberg, C. (2008) ‘Modernist Painting’. In: Harrison, C and Wood, P. eds. Art in Theory:1900-2000 An Anthology of Changing Ideas. 9. Blackwell: 773-779

Studio Research - Week 7 by Ally McGinn

This was a week i took mostly for reading, research and blog writing. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation] Framing, and enflaming.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation] Framing, and enflaming.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation] Framing, and enflaming.  9m painting roll. Ive got more ideas for this than there are possibilities. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation] Framing, and enflaming.

9m painting roll. Ive got more ideas for this than there are possibilities. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation] Equalising primary qualties.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation] Equalising primary qualties.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation] Not much changed on the wall this week, far more action occurring on the floor.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation] Not much changed on the wall this week, far more action occurring on the floor.

Research Methodologies - Aims and Objectives update by Ally McGinn

We are about halfway through the research methodologies module, and as a temperature check, I’m going to do a quick update on my aims and objectives.

On 16th October I defined my objectives as;

  • Deconstruct canvas, physically and in concept. Comparing the reality of the object with its primary function.

  • Investigate traditional methods, process and materials, to identify areas of interest

    • Sub-question - Investigate the ‘space’ of art (i.e: the gallery or other curated settings) and it's function regarding the reading of art as art. (Because it's only through the gallery that nomination can serve as process)

  • Investigate the role of the viewer/onlooker in art.

    • Sub-question - Explore Derrida’s theory of the ‘parergon’ to better understand the concept and purpose of the frame in art and it's implications on the space and interpretation of art.

Regarding research, I have been making some progress with these, but this task has encouraged me to think about the ways the subjects I have been researching have (or have not) aligned with my objectives.

Figuring this out involved repeated mind-mapping and diagrams.

Updated Objectives

As the final image shows I have come to realise that my objectives can be grouped into an interest in the physical and metaphysical experience of art in relation to (1) creation and the artists process (2) curation and the viewers experience and (3) the space (or context) that underpins and intersects them both.

I plan to achieve these aims through an exploration of artistic theory and the work of artists based on these objectives. (Some of which are shown in the above diagrams and on my mind maps. An updated and comprehensive list is in progress)

I believe, and my research is showing, that the three subheadings are so interlinked that they cannot be accurately or truthfully separated. In fact, the act of art itself is a process of bringing the three together into an experience.

Through the research of these subjects and a more developed sense of the relationship between the three, I hope the enhance my studio practice and the effective communication of my message.

In a blog post on the 31st, i revisited my statement, which fits with this new assessment of my objectives. Statement - “I am an installation artist exploring the nomination of the incidental in art. Working with a subversion of organised activity my work asks questions of temporal perception. What tells us something is a piece of art? The process, the artist, the viewer, the experience or the collaboration of that and more? My practice explores these questions with a combination of found objects and manipulated semiotics.

Creating conversations through relational aesthetics the viewer is invited to step into the real space of the work to explore juxtapositions of incident and chance against an organised reliance on the interior and exterior of the ‘Artworld’.”

 

Reflection

My aims have slightly developed, but I wouldn't say they have changed; more I have articulated them in a more focused way. This change was a natural development of a balance between research and reflection.

Going through this process has encouraged me to note what I have researched so far and what I plan to research. The most important factor of this process has been to reduce my planned research. I have been able to highlight a few areas of research that I thought I had to cover and have since realised that I do not need to include; I was being a bit too ambitious, and this reduction is a very positive step.

I believe that my objectives are clearer, and although the potential scope of this subject is very large I have been focussing my research more as time passes.

I will admit that the scope of this research is one of the areas that I am least comfortable with, in that I am unsure if I am correct that the scope is attainable, I believe it is, and that I have made good progress so far, but it is a very hard thing to check with any degree of certainty.

This research is vital to my practice because it is through this research that I am able to develop ideas. The process of my practice is one of concept, and those concepts and ideas often come from art theory, which I then attempt to subvert or challenge through objects and installations in the studio.

Studio Research - Week 6 by Ally McGinn

A relitively productive week. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. A painting turned into a sculpture.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. A painting turned into a sculpture.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. Artists tools

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. Artists tools

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. Finding pleasure in the small conversations.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. Finding pleasure in the small conversations.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation].   Busy studio. I've been viewing the walls of my space as a sort of continually shifting sketchbook, where documentary photos are the only remaining evidence.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. 

Busy studio. I've been viewing the walls of my space as a sort of continually shifting sketchbook, where documentary photos are the only remaining evidence.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. The studio wall by the end of this week. Big changes, but a similar conversation.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. The studio wall by the end of this week. Big changes, but a similar conversation.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. Exploring depth within painting(s).

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. Exploring depth within painting(s).

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. A conversation i particularly enjoyed this week.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. A conversation i particularly enjoyed this week.

Studio Research - Week 5 by Ally McGinn

A big change in the studio this week, so it gets a post to itself. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. Potential Purpose (2017) 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. Potential Purpose (2017) 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. Normalising objects, equalising form, exploring hierarchy. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. Normalising objects, equalising form, exploring hierarchy. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation].   Studio View - Wednesday 25th, 9am. The process continues but I'm stuck to the wall.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. 

Studio View - Wednesday 25th, 9am. The process continues but I'm stuck to the wall.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation].   Studio View - Wednesday 25th, 9:30am - The wall is down. The light is amazing, but I've had an idea. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. 

Studio View - Wednesday 25th, 9:30am - The wall is down. The light is amazing, but I've had an idea. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation].   Studio View - Wednesday 25th, 11am - The wall is no longer a wall. Now it is a painting.  Ive extended the space behind the wall, and reinforced it. Im reluctant to screw through the canvas, yet. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. 

Studio View - Wednesday 25th, 11am - The wall is no longer a wall. Now it is a painting.

Ive extended the space behind the wall, and reinforced it. Im reluctant to screw through the canvas, yet. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation].   Studio View - End of week 5. The works on the wall are beginning to connect. Balance is still a keen interest. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. 

Studio View - End of week 5. The works on the wall are beginning to connect. Balance is still a keen interest. 

Note/Thought - Destruction by Ally McGinn

How can you destroy a work of art through experiencing it? Slowly?

A canvas floor where the viewer has to walk through mud to walk on it?

Something so fragile that it breaks when it is walked on?

Food that rots?

Flowers that die?

An image that fades in light?

EDIT - 7th December. 
I have found, and begun, a way of exploring this idea. I have painted an apple grey. I await it's rotting.

 

Studio Research - Weeks 3 & 4 by Ally McGinn

Two further weeks into the studio practice and this blog. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation].  Making a few paint skins to be used in installation and assemblage experiments. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation].

Making a few paint skins to be used in installation and assemblage experiments. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation].  The white cube and grey floor. A large paint skin, made on the floorboards, reflecting the shape of the floor in the form. The white cube is a bit of an obvious reference but nonetheless is aesthetically pleasing. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation].

The white cube and grey floor. A large paint skin, made on the floorboards, reflecting the shape of the floor in the form. The white cube is a bit of an obvious reference but nonetheless is aesthetically pleasing. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation].   Formula 79  (2017) Assemblage experiments are ongoing.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation].

Formula 79 (2017) Assemblage experiments are ongoing.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation].  Beginning to experiment with balance.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation].

Beginning to experiment with balance.

Research Methodologies - Mind Maps by Ally McGinn

Welcome to the most image heavy blog post I think im going to have.

My mind maps have come through in a few stages.

Through creating these maps, and attempting to identify my aims and objectives, I have realised what my methodology is, in its most practical terms.

To pin down my aims and objectives, i have to first look at my methodology as it has exsisted to date. I am an organised and slightly obsessive personality, i work using a practice-led method with often reactive explorations. This is true of both my studio practice and my research. For example, during my degree, I began research by mind-mapping keywords and known associated artists. This initial deconstruction led the research, which then focussed as the research progressed and a true interest arose.

This approach does not lend itself well to an initial question or much specificity, instead following an organic and intuitive focus to a defined end. I find myself unable to currently define exactly what I am going to bring together, but through doing (as in the studio, with writing, with looking at a thick book, or even getting out of bed in the morning…..) I find the only solution for me is to begin.

An interesting point that I have to note now. The penultimate paragraph in the last post was an exposition of my methodology in technical terms, with the help of a book and a very descriptive table. Whereas the paragraph above is the practical description, based on a discussion with my husband about the ways I work, and time spent staring at this document. Deductive vs inductive exploration of the same thing. It would be an interesting exercise to explore whether the two are actually saying the same things, and if not the differences could be fascinating.

So to begin.

I started with the broadest view of my studio practice, and its contextual links.

The images are very complicated and with far too many associations and links. I split them into primary and secondary (more to do with concerns with space as opposed to other considerations)

Primary research subjects/artists/texts

Primary research subjects/artists/texts

Secondary research subjects/artists/texts

Secondary research subjects/artists/texts

These images are complicated, and far too inclusive and undefined.

I next created a mind map based on the keywords highlighted in our initial weeks of the MA.

Keywords and terms

Keywords and terms

This deconstruction remains too undefined yet somehow restrictive.

I tried a few different ways of categorising the artists, subjects and texts. It's hard to say whether these are useful at the moment but they are a form of data collection.

Category explorations

Category explorations

Final Maps - Level 1

The final iteration of my mind maps, for now at least, removes the majority of the lines. I felt like those connections had become too numerous and convoluted. The images are too hard to read and decipher.
This mind map contains a few lines - where connections needed to be made explicit. The format of this map is based on the location of artists/texts/words to each other.

I feel that this map is far more indicative of my practice, and is something i can use as i continue forward as a foundation for where i am, where i might be soon and where i might find areas of interest.

2nd generation mind map exploring my practice and associated links

2nd generation mind map exploring my practice and associated links

An initial deconstruction of this map found three primary 'areas', although this is only an initial, and almost intuitive, deconstruction. I have tentatively titled these areas 'process', 'context' and 'material'. 

IMG_5940.JPG

I then challenged myself to choose the most important elements. 

IMG_5941.JPG

I began redacting this copy, before quite quickly realising that it was redundant. These things are all important in some way, however this drew me to an important realisation - some of these things have moved into the realm of inspiration as opposed to objective. 

Level 2
To further understand this development of research done over time i deconstructed the above information into a chronological catalogue of interests and context over the last three years, and potentially the next. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

This iteration has been the most useful for organising my thoughts and where i might want to begin researching this year. 
While some of the subjects have lasted through the years, the focus has certainly narrowed. 

With the combination of the two i believe i have a far more solid foundation of what i am interested in and where potential areas of research lay. 

While all of the information in level 1 is relevant in some way it is not where my objectives may lie. I found the distinction between what has become an influence (by dint of previous research) and my objectives to be an important one. 

Level 3

Taking the words most associated with my current practice (far right coloumn on the previous image) the next image attempts to locate those words in practical terms - where they intersect with my practice. 

The colours were then added to organise/simplify by 'subject'. The list in the top centre of the image shows the three words for each of the three 'subjects'.

IMG_5946.JPG

This transitory document was extremely useful in trying to deconstruct what i consider to be the most important elements of my current artistic practice. 

Level 4

Re-presenting the above information led to this iteration, which is a redacted (more workable) version of level 1. The information is not really any different, but the perspective is. 

IMG_5950.JPG

This final level, categorised for now into three sections, shows a true deconstruction of interests and aims. Ive highlighted a few areas of research interest (in yellow), one or more of these elements will make up the coming research posts. 

The image speaks for itself. The process of deconstruction has been difficult, confusing and generally overwhelming, but, as i think this final image shows, productive. I have a far clearer idea of where i am, and where i might want to be. 

Next post - a short document articulating my aims and objectives in the most definitive terms I can identify now. Far more confident thanks to these mind maps.

Bibliography

Please click here for a full list of texts referred to in mind maps. (PLEASE NOTE - not all of these texts have been referenced, but they are in the plan to be.)

Research Methodology - Questions - Where I am now, or where I think I am. by Ally McGinn

In the previous post I explored a few of the methods that might be used. This post discusses methodology in fuller terms.

A foundation, a marking of where I am, before the full research begins.

We have had a suggestion that the exploration of our tacit understanding is important at this point. Meaning that it is important to use information we already know and have explored, which is logistically harder to condense into a bibliography.

We’ll begin with this diagram again, which i need to be able to answer to get to my sources of research.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Who we are as researchers forms methodology, but this is broken down into the reality we are looking at (ontology) the questions we ask (epistemology, and ontology) the lens we are looking through (theoretical perspective), the worldview (paradigm) and our tools (methods).  

The epistemological and ontological concerns will arise in direct response to the research being done and aren't necessarily questions to be answered now. However, understanding my theoretical perspective is something I can certainly begin to unpick.

One of the first questions I should cover relates to my aims and objectives. Which brings me to the distinction between inductive vs deductive research.

Inductive vs deductive

Research is the gaining of knowledge in some way, and there are many practical applications and areas of research, many that we don't acknowledge as such. Deductive research can be described as research where the question or theory is known and tested, whereas inductive can be described as generating new information from an exploration of subjects, materials or processes.
I see this as the division between knowing the question you are asking and trying to figure it out through process - which is a very big part of many artists studios, including mine.

In terms of placing myself, I would say that I am an inductive worker, although in research I lean more towards deductive at times.

Qualitative vs quantitative

The previous post deals with the definition of these terms, but a moment should be taken to explore them on a personal level.
I am, as are many artists, a qualitative researcher (tacit knowledge, with an emphasis on value) although at times I use quantitative methods (occasionally subconsciously) to help move my practice.

Research to date

In future, if I continue the blog as I expect to, I may come back to explore research i have done to date. If i hope to underpin my practice in its entirelty this seems to be something I will need to do. However, for the purposes of a module of the MA, that backgrounding is not going to be possible now. I know these things, they have shaped my practice to date and i have notebooks filled with information, annotated texts and diagrams, to solidify and support my practice. 

I may refer to this information in this blog, where I do I plan to reference the information as much as possible. The information has been assimilated, to a certain extent, and I may assume in places (I hope to control this).

The urge to quantify the research to date, is strong, but this blog is not a definition of my practice, but instead serves as a record and research tool in my ongoing research. 

Aims and Objectives

In the simplest terms, I aim to develop my contextual knowledge to enrich the work being done in the studio. In addition, I hope to gain an understanding of the balance of research within the practice itself. The haptic nature of explorations in the studio.

I have a broad range of interests, especially when we take into account the depth that can be found in a single material, for example. Any aspect of the practice, materials or context could, with a little research, become a vast exploration.

For now, we have been advised to look at the practice, and it's associations, in broader terms. A focused subject will be chosen quite soon but for now, my objectives centre around expanding the terms around my practice and mapping their connections.

I'm not going to go into this with more detail today. There will be a post in the next week detailing a better-defined series of aims and objectives.

Approach

One thing I can say about my methodology since starting this blog is that writing is at the heart of it. At the beginning of each post my knowledge is like the page, rather empty, but through the writing, I have to articulate, and that is impossible without understanding, which leads to research and often an hour writing a single paragraph.

Trying to explain these terms, and ideas helps to understand them, which explains the bulging context folders I was known for producing during my BA.

Through reflection on the practical practice of research, I've come to acknowledge that this is something I have always done when researching. A very practical approach.

As an artist, I have a practice-led perspective, where my interests are led by the work being done in the studio. I research something because it has potential impact or impetus, which is worth stating.

Paul Minot, a senior lecturer at Bath Spa, gave a wonderful lecture this week about the practical realities of a practice-led approach, and the way the outcome of the research might be formed, which is not always as simple as it appears.

“Research – means to search for something in a systematic way. “ Re-search.

The paradox of research is: 1/ if you know what you're looking for, whats the point of looking for it? How will you find anything ‘new’? 2/ If you don’t know what you're looking for how will you know when you’ve found it?

In other words – if a theory exists whats the point in re-stating it? And, how do you know if there is a theory at all?

‘re-search’ = ‘re-collection’

‘Anamnesis’ – a philosophical idea (from Plato) that suggests that we already ‘know’ everything but we just haven’t recalled it yet. Making recollection an approach to research, which can be interpreted to mean, that research is best driven by instinct.

What we should be taking from this is the importance of instinct. We should go with what we know. We are artists and that has an impact on the way we research as well as the subject.

Only later in the process does a ‘method’ emerge, once you become more aware of what's driving the instinct. In Paul’s experience, there are four methods, all determined by identifying patterns in the research. (we are looking for patterns)

  • Sometimes the theory becomes before the content (The instinct can be interest and curiosity.)
  • Sometimes the theory comes after the content.
  • Sometimes the theory is the content
  • Sometimes the content is the theory – there is no theory, just making. (Making something you don’t understand and then researching the thing you have made. Its important to remember that is a form of research. There is a methodology in the process itself. Theory can come afterwards, written by someone else.)

The important thing to remember at this point, and taken from the lecture, is that the form the research takes and the outcome occupies are not as obvious as it would first appear.

Paradigm

Trying to pin down a single paradigm that defines or exemplifies my stance seems an enormous task, and I could well be confusing the issue.

I found this quote really useful “A scientific paradigm, in the most basic sense of the word, is a framework containing all of the commonly accepted views about a subject, a structure of what direction research should take and how it should be performed.”

Reading it made me realise I missed my paradigm by being too involved in it, to me the paradigm is obvious.

My paradigm is the context of art history. I am researching from the perspective of an artist, and my research to date has been in this field. I have a keen interest in the definition of art, and it's potential to impact the appreciation of art outside the gallery. Much of my research to date has revolved around this issue. (Explored in greater depth in the next post - ‘Mind maps’)

However, I still felt that I was being clouded on the issue of what a paradigm is. Thankfully one of the research books has been returned to the library and i have discovered the following table (page 20 in a brilliant book called ‘Visualising Research’ detailed listed at the bottom of the page)

small.jpeg

During research it is singularly important to question our assumptions. With an interesting similarity to the development of the art world, the methodology of science remained mostly unchanged for 300 years, following the positivist paradigm, which can be defined as a distance approach, with an emphasis on fact, empirical evidence and a removal of value associations. Following that came the post-positivist paradigm, which challenged traditional notions and expanded the field.

The above table articulates, in a way that i currently cannot, the definition and examples of what a paradigm is, and how we might understand it to better understand our research.

Theoretical perspective (where do I stand as a researcher?)

Defining my theoretical perspective involves discussing my approach, which is firmly in the practice-led column. Through writing this post i have better come to understand what those words mean, in practical terms, and have built my perspective without realising it.


Conclusion

This is something I'm going to be coming back to in the coming months, as the methodology is put into practice.

So to my methodology - how I am going to do this - I'm going to continue using haptic, objectivist and semiotic methods of research to explore the headings that come from the mind mapping. I plan to write short blog posts about each subject (be it a person, artwork, or idea)

I am coming from the perspective of an practice-led artist, meaning i am most likely to use a mixed method approach, as this is remarkably similar to my studio practice - no single medium, theory or visual subject defines the work definitively, there are always overlaps.

This can be described as a ‘bricoleur’ - or a pieced together approach, that combines a “close-knit set of practices that provide solutions to a problem in a concrete situation.” Brewer and Hunter (1989)

The thing i have found most interesting about this term (covered on page 74 of ‘Visualising Research’) is that the form the research takes when presented is often a bricoleur, the method becomes the work.

Based on the table shown above i can extrapolate that i have a ‘relativist’ ontology (i cannot deny that my study and writing to date have had a definitive interpretive slant), a ‘modified-objectivist’ epistemology (given that distance is required to a certain degree when researching art history but the combination with practical, ontological, research in the studio emphasises the relationship between the two) and a ‘hermeneutic, dialectic’ or possibly ‘modified experimental/manipulative’ methodology (given that my methodology is still something i'm studying it might be simpler to say a mixed-method or bifurcated methodology)

Although labels are not always a positive it would appear that the specifics i have identified would have my methodology most closely aligned with the constructivist or post-positivist paradigm (although i fully expect this to change as i come to know the subject of research more)

Next post - mind maps…..


Bibliography

Brewer, J. and Hunter, A. (1989) Multimethod research: A synthesis of styles. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Gray, G. and Malins, J. (2004) Visualising research. Oxon: Routledge.

Martyn Shuttleworth (2008) What is a paradigm [Online] Explorable. Available from: https://explorable.com/what-is-a-paradigm [Accessed - 10th October 2017]

Minot, P. (2017) Research methodologies week 3. Research Methodologies module, MA program 2017/18. Bath Spa. 10th October 2017.

Whiting, M. (2017) Research methodologies week 3. Research Methodologies module, MA program 2017/18. Bath Spa. 10th October 2017.