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Title: Painting in a digital forest
Author: Hartshorne, Ian
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 3777
Awarding Body: Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2016
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This PhD ‘by practice’ aims to understand ways in which painting confronts the experience of living in a digital age. The objective was to produce a body of paintings at a time of a shifting visual regime in order to reflect on the ways technology affects our temporal and historical relationship with the environment of the landscape and its inhabitants. Painting was used in the study to develop ‘felt knowledge’ – a form of artistic knowledge acquired through sensory and emotional perception.1 Using ‘felt knowledge’, I develop an analogy between the Internet surfer and a particular notion of the hunter in nature. The locus of the hunt is a liminal space that provides opportunities where various forms of natural and unnatural adventures can arise. The forest is seen as a place where one might experience a terrifying or enchanting loss of normal boundaries or understanding of the rules of engagement. The study uses a number of critical perspectives to explore questions of the closing temporal gap between events, analysis, production and absorption. A key concept is that of viewing nature as ‘Otherness’. The essential core of Otherness is inevitably nameless. Merleau-Ponty (2002), suggested that this experience comes about through a momentary loss of self-consciousness leading us to encounter otherness directly and with astonishment: “ In order to see the world and grasp it as paradoxical, we must break with our familiar acceptance of it and, also, from the fact that from this break we can learn nothing but the unmotivated upsurge of the world.” 2 Imagination is not possible without that radical otherness; it is this oddness, this uncertainty that forms the direction of my studio practice and my written reflections on where and how we live today. McLuhan’s work and his thoughts on the impact of media, particularly technological and digital media, contribute to my current concerns about the place and use of painting today. McLuhan suggests we snap out of our numbness, which is induced by the over dominance of a particular media or pattern. One possible solution to the anaesthetic effect of a particular medium is to use another medium that has an antidote effect. As a PhD by practice, the making of paintings has been the dominant mode of enquiry, with the accompanying text acting as a supporting device. In the written text, I reflect on the problematic relationship between painting and writing, following Matisse’s articulation of the difficulties and often-unnecessary demands made by writing. My approach to painting and the relationship that writing has to it is an explication of my methodology, which recognises the need to maintain an iterative movement between proximity/immersion and distance/reflection. The methods both acknowledge the need to make practical knowledge explicit, and a everse movement whereby the painterly procedure becomes a way to physically test the possibilities and limits of language in articulating this. Against exaggerated claims of the death of painting in the face of technological and other developments, the proposition of this thesis is that painting’s continuation and relevance at this historical moment is determined in part by a unwillingness of painters themselves to see it extinguished; and that furthermore, the practice of painting utilizes its marginalized position to its advantage. My contribution to knowledge lies in the consideration, fused into the paintings, of how the transformation of paint can convey an awareness of the affects of the closing temporal gap between events, analysis, production and absorption and the demonstration and articulation of how painting’s ‘moribund’ position has itself become its ability to communicate effectively from the margins.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available