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Title: Hybrid residues : exploring experiences of displacement through active participation in art practice
Author: McCreary, Alissar
ISNI:       0000 0004 7966 4650
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis explores and examines reciprocity between art practice, active participation, and traced memories of displacement. I review the significance of the active participation of the viewer with artwork which embodies personal experiences of war and displacement, with the aim of promoting what David Abram calls 'sensorial empathy' (1996). At the outset I formulated my hypotheses which I list below, along with their related questions: A. The first hypothesis infers that active participation is a tool that can be utilised as a form of communication to imply, indirectly, experienced situations of conflict and displacement. To test this, the following questions are raised: A1. How can the phenomenon of active participation, requiring the haptic perception, inform or affect the experience of embodied artwork? A2. How can an object embody an experience of displacement or conflict? B. The second hypothesis proposes that active participation of the viewer with artwork can help promote or facilitate sensorial empathy. To test this, the following questions are raised: B1. How does sensorial empathy affect the viewer's perception on the subject of displacement? B2. How can the sensorial empathy of the viewer provide insight into my experiences of war and displacement? In the thesis I have appropriated the term 'sensorial empathy' and use it to refer to a form of silent connection, or knowing, that can manifest phenomenologically between artist, artefacts, place and audience. I investigate how and when sensorial empathy takes place, and how it might affect the viewer's perception of the concept of displacement. My methodology consists of five main methods of inquiry: active participation, residues, autobiographical narrative, remembering and embodiment. My experiments with the active participation of the viewer have centred on the idea of the audience participating with the artefacts, both as a way of sensing and sharing my memories of experiences of displacement, and also to encourage in the viewer a sense of concern for the issues that initiated the work. Inquiry led active participation has been responsible for the artwork's transformation, relocation, and possibly, reconstruction or destruction. In experimental presentations of my artwork, this process of participation has been effective in promoting or instigating sensorial empathy, phenomenology, and existential awareness. Embodiment of the artefacts with memories of displacement was implemented through an intuitive approach, using metaphor and symbolism. Reflections on the effectiveness of active participation were drawn from analysis of audience feedback and used to modify and develop the artwork further. My intention is to show that active participation of the audience with immersive art, embodied with my experiences of displacement, can lead to sensorial empathy between the audience and these experiences in turn promoting a connection and understanding with each other that may help to overcome cultural barriers.
Supervisor: Lee, Ray ; Howard, Janice Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral