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Title: Projective space : structuring a beholder's imaginative response
Author: Wilder, Ken
ISNI:       0000 0004 2673 7617
Awarding Body: University of the Arts London
Current Institution: University of the Arts London
Date of Award: 2009
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The thesis explores the reciprocal relationship between an artwork and the space of its reception. It proposes a distinctive position on spatiality and the virtual. The thesis is submitted in two parts: a written thesis (Part One), and a documentation of my own art practice (Part Two). The artwork that comprises the practice component is not that of a painter, and yet the sculptural installations I present allude to perspectival paintings. Utilising perspectival geometry, these site-responsive works engage the threshold between two and three-dimensional representation in a way whereby implicit and actual beholder’s viewpoints are contrasted or fused. The written thesis focuses on the reception of perspectival painting, rather than on my own artworks. Referencing analytical philosophical arguments on representational seeing, and the reception aesthetics of Wolfgang Kemp, it puts forward a distinctive position that contends that while the visual imagination does not define depiction, it plays a pivotal role in supplementing perception in works where the spectator attends to and/or imagines away the threshold separating the real and fictive realms. After Merleau-Ponty, I call such an imaginative engagement seeing-with, which describes a particular use to which painting is put. In providing a strongly felt pictorial depth, I argue that such an implied pictorial space incorporates the space between painting and spectator position. I investigate two categories of works where such imagining facilitates a distinctive access to the picture’s content: (i) paintings containing what Wollheim refers to as an ‘internal spectator’; and (ii) paintings integrated into their architectural settings, where the internal onlooker is fused with the external spectator. I highlight differences afforded internal and external spectators: with the former, the viewer identifies with a spectator who already occupies an unrepresented extension of the ‘virtual’ space; with the latter, the beholder enters that part of the fictive world depicted as being in front of the picture surface, the work thus drawing the ‘real’ space of the spectator into its domain. This distinction mirrors two distinct types of visualization: where a scene is imagined as elsewhere, and where it is situated, juxtaposed with an existing reality. Imagination provides a reciprocity that replicates the experience of our bodily situatedness, in that it structures our implied spatial access to the depicted scene. In establishing a bodily frame of reference, it draws upon nonconceptual content. The thesis tests the philosophical argument against specific paintings, including works that introduce a break from a situated relationship in order to depict the supernatural or the unconscious.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available