Monash University
Thesis - open access version.pdf (27.28 MB)

Unfolding the field state: moving image and voice

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posted on 2016-11-29, 05:38 authored by Davies, Gwynedd
There are certain visual experiences, like the passing view from a train’s window, or expanses of wind-tossed foliage, that I find soothing and stimulating. This research extends upon phenomenological arguments about the field state, as involving particular modes of attending to the world, into the field of video and voice to explore how these experiences involve a heightened form of attention, one where feelings and emotions are important. The exegesis presents the methodologies, processes of critical reflection, and theoretical arguments that informed the research into this field state, and the subsequent insights. The exegesis proposes that field states depend upon particular kinds of views that are identified as field views. Drawing upon the work of film and video scholars Vivian Sobchack and Laura Marks, and employing reflective and reflexive research using video and photography, the field view is presented as engaging through its textural, variably rhythmic and repetitive qualities. Research into Stan Brakhage’s films, produced during a time of research into flicker phenomena and the brain’s role in visual perception, provides an historical context for the field view as a haptic form of engagement. The nature of the field states elicited by such views is explored by drawing upon current neuroscientific research into emotions, particularly by Antonio Damasio. Combined with the earlier work of Daniel Stern, this research explores variable rhythms as intrinsic to field views and field view videos, as well as how perception of rhythms elicits intense responses involving feelings and emotions. In the studio, properties of the field view were intensified in the videos, to reflect upon these heightened states of feeling and awareness. The exegesis frames how the studio research and methodologies involved manipulating video footage, and transforming prose into voice works, as modes of making and critical reflection that can involve field states. Arguments made by scholars Don Ihde and Michel Chion are employed to critically explore how the voice, as embodied rhythms, can extend responses to the videos by amplifying their perceived intensities. Undertaking this research provided insights into heightened field states as occurring through intensification from the original experiences, to the recollection of such states when engaging with field view video works and rhythmic voice works, with which individuals might then associate different feelings. The research thus makes a significant contribution to knowledge concerning the nature of perceptual, embodied engagement with the world, by extending philosophical concepts of the field state into the domain of creative research and screen-based practices.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Leonie Joy Cooper

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Fine Art


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture