Automatism and art practice
The research project is to develop an understanding of the use of automatism in the practice of art derived from an interrelationship between the material process of art and critical text. As these practices converge in their vocabularies of the psychic and the somatic, they formulate a discourse of interpretation. The critical textual inquiry has identified an expanded language of interpretation for automatism within the vocabularies of three particular areas of investigation in, 1. Psychoanalysis, 2. Phenomenology and certain currents of thought in Existentialism, and in 3. The theory and criticism of art. I have laid down an account of the field of research and my reading of it through six constituent writers: Freud, Ehrenzweig, Merleau-Ponty, Breton, Bataille and Rosenberg, determined from the artist-practitioner's perspective to be central contributors to an understanding of automatism. Four key terms have recurred in the material which I have identified in the research process as phenomena of automatist art practice; trauma, repetition, excess and gesture. As thinking continues in a contextualisation of art and critical theory they have provided further links to the theoretical language of current psychoanalysis and criticism by writers including: Agamben, Barthes, Foster, Krauss, Lacan and Lyotard. The focus of the practical inquiry rests upon an exploration of the communion between the unconscious mind and the body in automatism, derived from a studio practice with emphasis on a modelling and casting process. It is developed through the four key terms used as bridges in a critical exchange between the material practice and textual theory including original automatic writing. The theorising function of the art practice has been to initiate the four phases of the process of automatism as phenomena to be re-theorised through the four key terms as they are exemplified by a reflexive studio practice of automatist methodology in action. The body of art presented for examination selects works in series completed from 1996-2006, in the following materials: bronze, paint, plaster, laser print and wax.