The Body in the Mirror: Re-imagining the Hyper-real Experience through Classical Sculpture
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The definition of the body is uncertain within contemporary culture. This ‘body’ in question is ‘characterised’ by the pervasive and ubiquitous images of our visual culture, where mass media and advanced visual technology have created a highly simulated world. In this simulated world, the body is doubled. In this exegesis, I attempt to explore what the body means in contemporary visual culture by questioning and examining body image and its impact on our ideas of the body. I draw upon Baudrillard’s notion of ‘ hyper-reality’ and have applied it to the body image. This has resulted in my statement that contemporary (body) images in their own right, exterminating the original (body). From this, the notion of ‘the body in hyper-reality’ was formed and became a key concept for this exploration. In my visual practice, I conceived the idea of juxtaposing the contemporary body image with the classical statue through making an analogy between Baudrillard’s critique of contemporary images and early Christianity’s prohibition of the graven image. By combining the idea with my previous research tool of ‘critical illusion/ambiguity’ (a strategy where illusion or ambiguity is systematically arranged to draw the viewer’s attention and lead them to mediating on a certain issue), I conjured up a strategic device called ‘tactical disguise’ where contemporary body images merge into classical sculptures, pretending to be them. Through this process of disguising, I attempt to place the contemporary body images in the theatrical past, attaining a critical distance, at the same time drawing out discourses arising from the ironic juxtaposition of the two. Centreing upon this key strategy, my visual practice explored issue such as celebrity culture and idolatry, mass media and voyeurism, the ideal body, surveillance culture, simulation and the body, body image as commodity by experimenting with different types of body image as the subject for statues: images of famous, anonymous, ordinary or simulated bodies. An attempt to evoke the notion of the body in hyper-reality through visual practice was crystallised in the work, In search of Russell Crowe. In this work, the sculptural object’s interplay with other mediums such as video, performance, and photographs, brought an experimental aspect to the work, increasing the coherence and impact of my studio practice. This at the same time opened up a potential derived from the expansion of medium employed.
Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Doctor of Visual Arts (DVA)
Queensland College of Art
Item Access Status
contemporary visual culture