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Title: The persistence of religious iconography in the secular imagery of filmic culture : a study of an artist's source material
Author: Thompsett, Dolly
ISNI:       0000 0004 2672 3098
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2007
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This text exists to feed my practice. I intend it to help me to compile and understand effects and devices that I can use to make my paintings of real events epic, seductive and moving. In a sense it constitutes a personal archive. The powerful effects and devices that I examine here come from both cinema and from 'proto-cinematic' European painting. The text is organised to allow me to explore three archetypal atmospheric set pieces from Hollywood movies, and to analyse the way that they are constructed from individual effects and ideas which come originally from the canon of great paintings from European history. The Psychological Interior, The Nightmarish Urban Spectacle and The Infinite Black Void are the subjects of my three chapters. Each set piece triggers an emotional response in the viewer, be it empathy, disorientation, fear or awe. The styling that overlays the motif solicits the emotional response and is made up of specific colour, spatial and light and dark effects. Although these Hollywood set pieces are largely dismissed as being manipulative and populist, I will claim that they are worthy of critical attention, being both visually sophisticated and extremely powerful. These set pieces move us despite our current facility to debunk their seductive and emotionally manipulative appeal. I will show how these enduring set pieces have their origins in 'Old Master' religious paintings where they were part of a persuasive visual language intended to 'sell' religion to an often illiterate audience. In the late twentieth century cinema has claimed them and kept them alive so that a new generation of artists, myself included, are able to reappropriate them via the 'wash-cycle' of popular culture. I have used analytical means drawn from semioticians' study of images to dissect complex images and filmic sequences and to identity the visual elements which convey certain atmospheres. Having isolated these elements, I can begin to analyse them and to sift through art history to find painterly predecessors.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral