The Presence of Absence and Other States of Space.

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Wright, Chris
  • Subject: W900 | W100 | W200

The Presence of Absence and Other States of Space argues that absence has an underlying presence that links the territorialised space of the non-place and the interstitial space of the border zone. It is posited that disturbed areas are created that interrupt, amongst other things, placial identity. It was also argued that the term „non-place‟ has a limited validity in contemporary society. Also, as a fine art, practice-led study, viewing space was continually questioned both with regard to my own practice and to other, mostly contemporary, artists. The research was multi-disciplinary and used observation and reflection to form the basis of studio practice from which exhibition material was then gathered. Ideas were tested in both conventional and unconventional exhibition spaces, predominantly through installation, expanded sculpture and site-specific. Throughout, theory and practice have existed side by side, each informing and being informed by the other in a circular and reflective manner. The academic and practice research base was international and included the UK, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Laos, Norway and United States of America. Primary authors included Marc Augé, Gaston Bachelard, Homi K. Bhabha, Michel De Certeau and Henri Lefebvre and, later, particular resonances were found in Martin Heidegger and Michel Foucault. Visual references were mainly Western and included Belgium artist, Francis Alÿs (b.1956) and Michael Elmgreen (b. Denmark 1961) and Ingar Dragset (b. Norway 1969). The main outcomes have been that absence was identified as an underlying concept especially regarding placial identity; that place was seen as a site of memory and experience in addition to being locational; the term „non-place‟ was found to be of general limited validity mainly due to the overwhelming presence of genericness caused chiefly by contemporary economic constraint. In the narrow authoritarian space of the border, a pause was identified that occurred in the everyday life of the user that showed similarity to the user of the non-place. Applied to the process of viewing it was accepted that, whilst the white cube mode of viewing was imperfect, no better system was found where the artwork could be idealised in such a way. As an overall viewing experience for the casual viewer however, it gave a poor outcome. Viewing of art in the everyday created dichotomies that related directly to the duration of display where permanent art could easily become invisible due to its constant presence. Immediate relevance was found in my own practice especially with regard to art exhibition and viewing. The importance of these findings concerns art and architecture where value has to be placed on social and cultural identity that then contributes to placial identity, thus creating presence instead of absence.
  • References (5)

    Fig. 24 Ronan Ondák Camouflaged Building March 27th 2009. OneDay Sculpture, Wellington, New Zealand

    Fig. 28 Ceal Floyer Floyer's Door 1995, Gallery collaboration with Dan Flavin 2007. Ingelby Gallery, Edinburgh, UK

    Fig. 29 Liam Gillick 2009. German Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, Italy

    Fig. 30 Anthony McCall You and I, Horizontal III 2007. Serpentine Gallery, London. (Image: © Sylvain Deleu)

    Fig. 31 Street sign, Las Vegas, USA 2012

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