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Contingency and Infinity : a studio investigation of embodied perception
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posted on 15.05.2017by Eastman, Leslie Oakes
My artistic research emphasises the interwoven relationship between the subjective encounter and the surrounding world. I draw on Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s notion of Flesh and Keiji Nishitani’s Śūnyatā - or radical impermanence. For both writers, science and secularism involve an objectification of both the natural world and human subject, leading to the de-personalisation of both. Their approaches seek to unravel the distinction between self and other. In particular, the notion of a dissolving or omnidirectional vision proposed by both writers informs my interest in the greatest context that we cannot see but which sees us.
The challenge in this research has been to develop artistic experiences that suggest a relationship of reciprocity and permeability between the subjective encounter and the surrounding world. In addition I explore through the works the conditions of seeing, which are characterised simultaneously by separation and continuity, visibility and invisibility, presence and absence.
I contrast critiques of phenomenology with a re-emergence of phenomenological art practice. By grounding an introspective aesthetic experience within the social domain I seek a deeper understanding of the phenomenological framework, which my work draws upon.
Painting is the informing artistic heritage of the installation practice I work with. Painting is constituted through the division of sight and touch, and inherently addresses visuality (learnt seeing) and seeing. I work with issues of framing, of real and pictorial space, opacity, transparency and displacement in my installation work to explore the enigmatic relationship between the haptic and the optic. Through these works I hope to prompt larger revelations about the conditions of perception. The ambition is that the viewer may become a navigator of visibility through revealing invisibility; through perceiving yourself perceiving. The implication is the experiencing subject may change their surroundings through an understanding of its conditions. These conditions are both introspective and social, and consequently have a cultural significance.
This practice is a conditional one, focusing on the experience of light, space, time, and contingency in an attempt to identify the framework of perception in which the sensible is distributed. Drawing attention to these conditions in which the frame of invisibility is exposed is an allegorical approach intended ultimately to remind us of our place as embodied subjects open to otherness and the infinite.