art research essays 2007-2011

Alexa Raisbeck, 2011, Reproduction: The problems facing film art.

The purpose of this essay is to look at Walter Benjamin’s theory on reproduction in art, as found in the text The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. It is also look at John Berger’s observations and theories on the reproduction of original art work in Ways of Seeing. Using these theories, and accepting the premise that all reproductions distort, I offer an expanded and updated view on the reproduction of original work. This is in regard to original lens-based pieces – with specific focus on film art.  This essay focuses on the passivity with which reproductions of original film art created on celluloid are digitized and transferred onto other mediums. It examines these issues through the use of three case studies. The analysis of each case study examines how far the ontology of the original work is maintained after reproduction and relocation to other mediums. Due to advancing technologies, reproductions will continue to be produced on universally viable mediums. Since these mediums introduce new processes, with regard to the way visual and audio information is stored and presented, there becomes a problem with how this work is perceived. I examine how this affects the ontology of the artwork and whether the meaning has become lost or diluted. Acknowledging that there is a demand for a wider audience to see the work in a viable manner, I accept the reasons for these digitised transfers and look into whether the participatory nature of video sharing sites such as Youtube, ultimately could aid in the wider exposure of the work. This perhaps, leads to more demand for the original pieces to be shown in their original celluloid format. However the question is raised that with future technological progression, will the ontology of the original work become completely unrecognisable the further it moves from its original medium? There is also the issue of apathy in introducing reproductions of this work, as ultimately there is a responsibility on those who supervise in the transfer of these pieces (and put them in the public domain) to explain the limitations of the reproductions. Unfortunately this may not happen, which leaves this issue open for further study and debate.

Mario Lautier Vella, 2011, Holy ghosts: The icon and the uncanny.

The Christian Orthodox icon, with its ambiance of spiritual piety, reverence and meditation, is also a channel for the uncanny – the sensation of unease, mystery, secrecy and ambiguity as discussed by Freud in his seminal 1919 essay. Examining the aesthetic and theological aspects of an icon reveals further unique associations with the uncanny (in its various guises) and plays a complex, crucial role in the engagement with the icon as intended or as an unwitting conduit of the uncanny. The icon and the uncanny are bound even closer when considering the work of contemporary artists who nod to Orthodox traditions in an unorthodox fashion. The result is artwork that evokes the uncanny. Yet sensing the uncanny drives the spectator to question and assess the motivation and meaning of the images shown, in a bid to rid oneself of the uncanny associations the work evokes.

Heather Jukes, 2011, The mirror- reflections. An examination of the significance of the mirror in visual art with particular reference to the portrayal of women; how has the work of Helen Chadwick and other contemporary women artists challenged traditional attitudes and practices?

The female body and mirrors have repeatedly featured in visual art over the centuries. It is the purpose of this essay to examine the reasons behind the use of the mirror particularly in association with the female nude. The starting point will be a description of Helen Chadwick’s, Of Mutability, arguably her most significant work, which was first shown in 1986. The next two sections will examine theories of the mirror in mythology and religion, and the psychology of self identity and spectatorship. Applications of the theory will be drawn from the field of art and literature featuring the mirror and reflection. In a final section, Chadwick’s work, Of Mutability will be re-examined in the light of the essay’s findings.

Claire Zammit, 2011, Postmodern delusions of the female “self.”

In the increasingly youth- and beauty-centric society of the Western world, there has been an unrelenting increase in demand for cosmetic plastic surgery over the last two decades: Reaching figures of over 38,000 procedures in the UK alone (BAAPS, 2011) and topped a staggering 10 million in the USA for the year 2010 (ASAPS, 2011). The disturbing feature of this phenomenon is that it is a malais that particularly effects women rather than the whole of society: 91% of cosmetic surgery procedures in the US last year were performed on women (ibid). Although this trend is undoubtedly driven by increased accessibility, economics and technical advances, the gender bias demonstrated demands elaboration on the very nature and perhaps pathology of postmodern female identity. That this phenomenon is a symptom of postmodern society generally is certain, its origins, however, are also deeply rooted in the history of women in society and visual culture and their domination by a patriarchal hegemony. This essay explores drivers of this phenomenon, the peculiar susceptibility of women and the role of visual culture in the pathogenesis of female identity in the postmodern era and moves on to discuss commentary on identity by contemporary female artists, relating how their work adds to our understanding of the issues involved.


Kelly Teh, 2011, Electronic Art: The Synaesthetic Effects

While art has been my current location, I intend to explore the relationships between technology and art based on aesthetic perceptions and philosophical conceptualisations. However, this essay will focus on research in audio-visual art by means of pervasive technology. The combination of auditory, visual or more senses in the form of an involuntary experience is also known as synaesthesia. The discovery of this subject since then has aroused the interest of many scientists and artists. Francis Galton who was the first to document the study on this neurological based phenomenon was only referred to two decades later as scientists learned more about the brain (A.Jensen 2007). By the late 19th century, many visual artists, notably Wassily Kandinsky, who claimed to have synaesthesia, produced abstract paintings or also known as ‘colour music’. However, since the emergence of modern technology began, some artists started to explore sound in relation to visual art by simulating synaesthesia in their work.

Beatriz Rinaldi, 2010,  Participatory art in retrospective

“Participatory art in retrospective is a reflection on institutional forms of presenting retrospective participatory art. By looking at exhibitions and critiques, I attempt to discuss the representation of a body of work that, at the edge of art, challenges the conventions of artwork display. ”

Aaron Kay, 2010,  Video Essay and Retro Video Games.

“Whilst I could have produced a written essay with references to games within it, this would stop short of illustrating the points I would like to make.  In a video essay, I am able to use video images. Although this video essay is about retro video games, it is also a discussion, and to some extent a comparison, of retro video gaming to more contemporary computer game platforms. Specifically, it discusses and compares retro games played on their original hardware, with contemporary games played on contemporary hardware, and retro games played on contemporary hardware via software emulation of the original hardware platform.”

Liliana Garcia, 2009, Lilith’s Rain: a case study of practice-based –research in the visual arts

“Since 1990 the debate about higher art education and the ‘practice-theory reflection’ has been the concern of the academy and other higher art institutions in Europe. This discussion has promoted changes that where addressed in Bologna Convention in 1999, which inaugurated the ‘beginning’ of new reforms in the higher education system. (…)  In the contingency of this debate, and as an MA art student in the U. K. I wish to reflect on the changes that this MA course has made (so far) regarding the identification of the methodology I use, the theory that underpins it, and the professional perspectives I see as an artist. In this essay I will first explain my general way of working and then analyze the methodology and the theory in relation to my specific work in
progress: Lilith’s Rain, as well as reflecting on the specific characteristics of art and art’s research that can be useful to other fields of study.”

Cinzia Cremona,2009,  INTIMATIONS: Performative Relational Process in VideoPerformance

“Intimations is an art practice based research project that aims to undertake a systematic enquiry into the processes of specific video performances, and to contribute a sustained and contextualised relational argument to the discourses that surround them. In this context, I shall pay particular attention to the emerging hybrid methodology that this research necessitates and fosters. This project interrogates the relationships activated in intimate video performances in relation to the philosophical concept of performativity.  Starting from my own approach to this specific practice, I am testing strategies of direct address towards, and engagement of an evoked you, experimenting with the video camera and the relational and performative potential of mediated performances. Within this dynamic, I aim to focus on the artist’s performance ‘towards’ a potential future viewer, and the consequential offer of a mediated personal relationship. The dissertation will contextualise video performance historically and within the ongoing debates on performativity, as well as reviewing contemporary relevant practices, and recent philosophical approaches to personal and social relationships.”

Jim Biddulph,2008, Physical >Non> Nomadic> The shifting role of site in contemporary art practice

“The site has become a series of sites, no longer appropriated by the singular place. There is no extraordinary entity at the centre of interpretation and both artist and viewer (and in some cases the work) must all engage in travel and movement in order to experience the work in full. This is one of many examples that highlight the erosion of the physical site, a selection of which I shall consider in this essay. The question is; how has this dichotomy of our expectations of site-specific art occurred? How has the theme of the nomad come to prominence, and how has this changed our expectations and ultimately, what does site-specificity entail in contemporary art practice?”

Anna Sullivan, 2008, Signs and Deconstruction

“The subjects of Signs and Deconstruction are philosophy. Their application in art, and to someextent architecture, will be explored. This exploration is in two parts, the first will communicatea theory of signs and the second will introduce Deconstruction with the intention of developingan understanding of this method.”

Isabella Hargrave,2008, Relational Aesthetics

“During this MA arts module a group of like minded individuals met within an established learning environment and sought to promote learning through conversation. This model of distributed learning has covered a variety of theoretical approaches and processes within the arts and has encompassed an equal variety of teaching and learning tools and models ranging from library references and film shows to on-line discussions and interactive sessions. I will be considering the shift in audience participation within the arts and the changes effected by technological advance, in particular the fluctuation this causes in the relational space: the space that lies between us. I will also consider how the role of dialogue, language and philosophy that now underpins art has developed into a narrative space for reciprocal exchange and how the collaboration between artists and audience has enabled existing forms, aesthetic concepts and user/spectator responses to be conceived as art.

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