The Anatomy of an Image Painting in the Digital Age

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Bramley-Moore, Mostyn

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Hawker, Rosemary

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The expansion of digital media and technology is rapidly transforming our perception of the material world. Marginalising the tactile potential of an image to convey meaning, advances in new-media have emphasized speed and efficiency over weight and substance. In light of the digital paradigm, my research promulgates the concept of painting as a physical encounter. An encounter that negates the disembodied nature of digital technology and that initiates an important rupture within the established fields of visual representation and communication. In order to extend the relevance of painting within contemporary art and culture, this paper analyses the material dimension of painting; its potential to convey significant meaning through creating a visual experience that is both optical and tactile. As the invention of photography can be seen to have liberated painting from a mimetic, narrative role, the nature of digital media likewise offers painters a unique challenge – digital technology requires us to think about painting in a new way. The concerns for ‘physicality’ and ‘media-specificity’ are already well mapped out in modernist discourse and, as Rossalind Kraus rightly points out, it is difficult to raise the term ‘medium’ in relation to visual art without evoking both the ideas and/or critique of modernist critic Clement Greenberg. Consequently, one of the challenges for my research is to redefine the role of painting and its ‘tactility’ beyond the confines of modernist debate and offer an alternate way to consider how painting may operate in the contemporary world. By examining the impact of digital technology on our perception, this paper analyses the specific historical and cultural context that confers paintings physicality with an important role. In expanding the concept of painting as a physical encounter, my research explores the aesthetic philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. I maintain that Deleuze’s writings offer a coherent and creative strategy for contemporary artists to consider the material dimension of painting as a ‘strategic zone’ for arts production. I consider both the production and reception of painting in specific relation to the material processes that engender the emergence of meaning. This is a meaning that is felt through ‘sensation’– motivating us to think about the significance of an image beyond the regime of semiotics or communication. Paintings tactile dimension affirms a connection with the immanence of the physical world – an experience of art grounded in substance.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Queensland College of Art

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