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Title: Strange phantoms and fictitious dreamlands : art, life and me
Author: Mu, Ruidi
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 607X
Awarding Body: Royal College of Art
Current Institution: Royal College of Art
Date of Award: 2019
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I have always felt that you should never make a decision following a lunchtime nap. There is something about this space and time, a kind of momentary discordance with the world, that seems particular to this break in the day. It is difficult to define, yet quite distinct to the moment of waking up in the morning. The lunchtime nap is a kind of disruption to consciousness, to daily life, and in its wake the world can appear quite strange: dreamlife and real life becoming confusingly intertwined in the imagination. A fictitious dreamland that infects the remainder of the day. Within my research, photography often becomes a starting point for triggered imagination. While the purpose of this project is not to define the imagination, a key concern of my PhD is focused on exploring and investigating whether an imaginary action could be identified as a Happening, and through doing so, to reimagine the space of the Happening through the lens of photography. Like the moment of photography, a Happening can never be repeated. Strange Phantoms and Fictitious Dreamlands offers a consideration of the conjunction between photography and Happenings as a means to explore the intersections between art, life, and identity. An understanding of performativity infuses this practice-led research. What does it mean to perform the identity of an artist? What does it mean to perform the identity of oneself? This study is also about gaps, and about things which happen in between things. These gaps occur between history and representation, between images and interpretation, between the artist and the viewer. My photographic and installation based practice has driven this study, drawing on everyday moments and continuously questioning the relationship between art and life, often using absurdist means. Artworks and exhibitions made during the course of this research project become the foundations for the chapters in the thesis. Chapter One begins with a focus on the relationship between photography, crime scenes and the unrepeatable moment, offering a reimagining of the Happening within a contemporary context and considering works by Weegee and Mac Adams. The second chapter of the thesis continues the study of the intersections between art and life, extending this to a focus on how art can influence the world and others, in unexpected ways. This writing tells the story of a journey that began as a personal expedition, one which resulted in a discovery that was reported in news publications in both China and the UK. This leads into the third and final chapter of the thesis, which continues my investigation into ideas of the Happening, with a focus on news publications and how these reflect and potentially distort events from everyday life. The writing of the thesis forms a key part of my practice. A storytelling narrative voice is employed throughout the chapters, in order to perform - through the action of writing - the event of the Happening, and the subjective experience that occurs through a process of reflection. Strange Phantoms and Fictitious Dreamlands brings together a study of Happenings, photography, narrative and everyday life, in order to offer a new contribution to practice-led research into subjectivity, and artworks which interrogate the borders between art and life.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: W190 Fine Art not elsewhere classified ; W640 Photography ; W800 Imaginative Writing