The Same and the Other: Transforming Material Experience into Images

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Bramley-Moore, Mostyn

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Fitzpatrick, Donal

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Making a visual model of experience is one of the ways that human beings come to understand and respond to the world. For some artists, mimetic description is unsatisfying and inadequate. The shift in focus from representation to presentation in the art of non-relation offers an alternative model precisely because it is able to highlight the inherent inexpressibility of being without completely giving up on the task at hand. The hand of the painter might reach further into the mind than the writer because it is able to distance itself from the constrictions of language, while holding onto some kind of essential (though impure) experience of being. I maintain that expanded painting is able to do this by engaging in a game of ‘the same and the other’: that is, by focusing on the gaps within the artist’s relationship to experience, ideas, and materials, and, by extension, the gaps between the artist’s intention and the viewer’s relationship with the works’ visual, tactile, and spatial dimensions. In this exegesis, I examine some of the ideas of writer Samuel Beckett; in particular, his commitment to ‘the imperative of saying’ in the face of inexpressibility, which is uttered through the slippage between relation and non-relation, and his use of ‘visual abstinence’. I maintain that Beckett’s artistic project of ‘ill seen ill said’ offers artists a strategy when seeking to translate experience of the world through materials because it interrupts the ready-made responses between subject and object. While acknowledging the differences in the goals and challenges of writing and visual art production, I will relate these ideas to contemporary artists Christopher Wool, Terri Brooks, Thomas Nozkowski, Ron Gorchov, and Paul Wallach. Finally, I will consider how these concerns play out in my studio by engaging with Beckett’s strategy of exhausting the possible through language, image, and space. The resulting body of work is a document of my ‘ill seen ill said’ or ‘best worse’ in the face of the discussed challenges.

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Thesis (Masters)

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Master of Visual Arts (MVA)


Queensland College of Art

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The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.

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Mimetic description

Material experience

Samuel Beckett, 1906-1989

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