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Title: An investigation of beauty and contemporary painting : Kant, Greenberg and neuroscience
Author: Banfield, Frank Patrick
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2004
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My motivation for my research stems from my practice as an abstract painter whose interests centre on form, pictorial space, surface quality and beauty in painting. For a long time I have been interested in the need for both freedom and restraint in the production of painting. In my practice I use an unusual material, containing translucent silicon polymers, because it provides a beautiful surface quality for my work. This is difficult to use; it cannot be applied with brushes, and so I developed a simple semi-autonomous machine for producing an image on canvas. The machine enabled me to paint with silicon polymers, to achieve a beautiful surface, but it imposed very severe restraints on the form of the images. This difficulty compelled me to consider the problem of the conflict between autonomy and freedom at a practical level and that in turn led to a reflection on the nature of this problem at the intellectual and emotional level. This thesis is, in large part, my response to this conflict. I begin my enquiry with a critical discussion of Greenberg's essay Modernist Painting in terms of the Kantian authority that he claims for it. I then tum to a critique of that Kantian authority itself. Common to both Greenberg and Kant is systematic argumentation in terms of wholly autonomous entities that makes a resolution of the conflict between freedom and necessity very difficult. In the second half of the thesis I use the concepts and empirical observations of affective neuroscience (which does not deal in autonomous entities) to develop my own theory of the beautiful and to use it as a critical tool in relation to both Kantian aesthetics and my own painting practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral