MCP504 Proposal Year 2
PART A – MFA synthesis (reflection) paper (approx. 900 words)
Part A is a short reflection on your first-year project and a chance to synthesize your studio and research findings ahead of the formulation of a second-year thesis proposal.
01 – Write a concise description of your studio project
This project began as an investigation into (accelerated) time, (inter) connection, network entanglement and the Posthuman Anthropocene. It has since been distilled into a single, simple, elusive and yet pervasive phenomena...Air. I started the year with an open mind, determined to follow a path of research and experimentation as a way of seeing where this project could potentially lead. I tried to remove judgment and expectation and remain open to the possibilities held within a contemporary drawing.
My current studio practice, which has formed part of the research, began by experimenting with ways of drawing with light. I was initially investigating the question of "what a drawing could potentially be?" Drawing (or mark making) was chosen as a practice-based research tool because it is an activity made by the human and nonhuman alike. Nothing exists without leaving a mark. Even the invisible medium of air etches, erodes, marks and draws its existence onto every surface it encounters. This idea refers directly back to the research question: "How do we carry the marks and nuances of our shared experience?"
Drawing is one of the most fundamental tools for communication, expression and storytelling and it occurs across all cultures and social backgrounds. Drawing is a creative tool that connects humans regardless of language, age and time.
The light drawing series of experiments investigated a way of using light as the medium with which to draw rather than light as a subject matter. Most drawings focus on the relationship between the surface and the drawn mark. With this style of drawing, the reality of the world sits within the picture plane - light as reality, the world behind the page drawn into the surface. This was the starting point for the light drawing experiments – perforated, punctured, wounded, scarred – open pores that allow the paper to ‘breathe.'
The repetitive nature of the process involved in making these drawings created a meditative effect, and as a result, the influence of breath slowly crept into the project. Based on my previous fascination with biological rhythms, breath became the rhythm of choice for this series of drawings while light became the medium with which to draw.
What started to change with the development of the light drawings was the intention of breath. Each hole became a single breath…a far slower process…this work no longer became about producing a finished drawing; it was more about a process from which the drawing was a byproduct embedded with the energy of intention and breath.
The psychology of light or more importantly the mythology of light as a medium in itself and not as a prop used to enhance the experience of a picture is what fascinates me about light as a material to work with for this project.
02 – How did the research impact upon your project and your working practice?
I am aiming to develop a creative practice that focuses on reinstating the value of connection – both the human to human connection and also connection as a means of remembering our place within the breathing, living landscape – a (re)connection to our environment seems like one of the most pressing issues of our time.
In an attempt to understand this connection my research led to investigating the many different types of complex networks in which we exist (both human-made and natural). It was after this research that I realized the current social and political systems are incapable of addressing the ecological battle we currently face. We are so embedded (or entangled) within the complexity of multiple networks it seems almost impossible to navigate our way into a different mode of thinking, even for those who grasp the urgency of the problem.
Through researching the Anthropocene, I have realized that the most pressing challenge we face involves the human-made manipulation of complex bio-spherical networks that pervade every aspect of our natural planet and to which we humans have very little understanding. Pace and connected acceleration in all facets of networks are proving beyond the capabilities of political and social systems to manage.
I am aware that the current political agenda operates within (or does it generate?) a divisive social climate that is fought between nostalgia and extreme pessimism on the one hand and a euphoric exaltation, individualistic win at all cost economic attitude on the other. At this point, neither end of the spectrum are helping; however, both are highlighting the need for change to occur at a psychological level before anything else can be resolved.
I am not claiming that this project can find that solution, what I am aiming to do is highlight the psychological friction our current relationship with our environment induces and to recall the deeply seeded awareness we all need to have of our place within the living, breathing landscape…the landscape as an active participant and not as the backdrop for us humans to play out our geopolitical drama.
I am hoping that a considered investigation into one of the most intimate and intricate networks we share (breathing) could potentially become a valuable pedagogical tool for reconnection. As Nietzsche stated, "the more abstract the truth you wish to teach, the more you must allure the senses to it." This raises the question of whether the knowledge harnessed from an investigation into the simple act of breathing (with the intention to comprehend the complexity of air) could be used as a means for grasping the complexity of the networks that pervade all other systems? Could the power of all networks be demystified by the simplicity of knowing the most intimate network– our breath?
The breath is at the very heart of connection, and after researching this, I realised that the mechanical process of breathing is, in fact, the catalyst for an even deeper investigation into the inherent potential in Air.
Attempting to answer the research question led into fascinating and unexpected territory including the perplexing shadows of mysticism, creation theories and cultural psychology as a way of trying to understand the human connection to our world through the breath. Through this research, I aim to understand the significance of breath and connection through different cultural points of view and not purely through the dominant Eurocentric perspective.
Without wanting to romanticise the past or live in the grips of nostalgia, I also found it necessary to research scientific theories associated with psychology, neuroscience, and perception as a way of interpreting the sensuous nature of our existence in Air.
In support of the practice-based, experiential and hermeneutical research methodologies, an investigation into the art practice of James Turrell, Robert Irwin, Tacita Dean, Adrian Piper and William Kentridge has been a significant and invaluable part of the research process. My advisors also sent numerous links to different art practices to consider during the developmental stage of this project.
03 – What directions does your project suggest for further research?
For the second half of the MFA, I plan to continue with the current tangent of research, however with a greater focus this year on the science behind the breath as a connected and complex network. As part of the practice-based research, I plan on attending a residency either in Iceland or the desert in Australia and using this practice-based research tool as an immersive experience in silence and connection to an isolated landscape (space).
Through this path of inquiry, I also realised that solitude is essential for the project's development– isolation in space and silence as a meditation on air and contemporary drawing. To be completely immersed in a vast and empty landscape, as a way of connecting to the ideas and potential in air. I hope to find the mental silence required to breathe life into this project – to be as far removed from the familiar as I can. For the future of this project, I plan to take inspiration from the breathing landscape, to reconsider the value of air as a medium, to slow down, to breathe and to listen.
Both the desert and mid-winter Icelandic landscape are devoid of physical entities and full of invisible potential; especially if we are to consider the idea that air fills all space and air as the medium of creation fills these landscapes of silence and isolation. Away from the social chatter and distraction of the populous centre lies the potential for solitude, space, and silence.
Although I am still open to the process of experimentation, at this stage, I do plan on developing an immersive drawing installation that creates a nonlinear experience (if its possible???)...an almost mythical space that blurs the edges of perception. In what shape or form this space takes is still open for experimentation and further research.
What I hope to find out is whether a nonlinear experience in a space without edges makes it possible to remove (even temporarily) the imagined borders we have created between and around one another and between the self and the non-human world in which we exist? If so, how would we then carry the mark of that experience?
Could drawing attention to the complex web of systems, networks and intricately woven connections we as humans and nonhumans share potentially lead to a re-evaluation of the human and nonhuman relationship? The aim is to move beyond the preconceived idea of 'us above them' and to transform this language into a nonlinear experience, one that distorts/changes our perception of what lies at the edges (surroundings)
Further research into sensory perception, neuroscience, and psychology and therefore understanding the human mind (both the ephemeral and tangible aspects) will be necessary for the future direction of this project. The brain is yet another complex network that requires a level of understanding if we hope to progress and the breath possibly has the potential to illuminate that understanding. How we perceive the world directly correlates to how we experience it and a change in perception is what seems to be required at this point in human history if we hope to change the current path of systemic ecological destruction.
PART B – Second Year MFA Proposal Outline (approx. 900 words)
01 – Title of project:
The Interconnected Nature of the Present Future: an investigation into the topography of breath, solitude and contemporary drawing.
02 – Name of student and any collaborators and their roles
03 – Suggested advisors for studio and for research element (first, second, third choices, if any). Explain your choices.
1. Jean Marie Casbarian - Jean Marie and I worked together for the first year of the MFA, and I found her knowledge and insights to be highly productive and conducive to the flow of the studio practice. I would value the continuity of working with Jean Marie again for the 2nd half of the MFA. I think that the already established knowledge and background of this project would be highly valued as a means of sustaining the flow into the second half of the project.
2. Mary Ting – After reading about the art practice of Mary Ting, I found that her interest in human interactions with the environment had many similarities to the issues of the Anthropocene and systemic ecological breakdown discussed in my research paper. I also found her feedback during the New York residency to be intelligent and highly valuable.
3. Laura Gonzalez – I met with Laura during the first residency in Berlin and found her to be an energetic and vibrant conversationalist. Also, her knowledge and understanding of contemporary drawing and its place in the wider art community would be highly valuable.
1. Andrew Cooks – After meeting up with Andrew recently, we discussed my project at length. Andrew offered some great resources for further research. His insight has the potential to take this project in a fascinating direction and one that I had not previously considered. As a fellow breathing being, I think Andrew would be a really interesting and thought-provoking addition to the research development of this project.
2. Simon Pope – After attending the Art After the Anthropocene workshop with Simon last year in Berlin, the ideas and information shared during this time have significantly influenced the current direction of my research. I would find it valuable to delve deeper into this aspect of the research
3. Caroline Koebel – An area of the investigation that Caroline has looked into involved the interrelationship between humans and nature, which is a topic that I also find to be relevant and interesting for my research.
04 – Description of proposed project or body of work – practical element
I plan to continue experimenting with drawing, breath, and light, trusting in the process of experimentation to see where it leads. I plan on investigating further the idea of physical connection through technology and exploring its potential when combined with the light drawings. The rhythm of our heartbeat and the depth of our breath as a signifier for pace and engagement with movement could potentially inform the technological aspect of the project. I think that possibly the lights behind the drawing could be activated using proximity sensor in response to the presence of a person in the space (one possible idea). I am also going to experiment with the use of steam/scent that could come through the holes as you look across the drawing at eye level or on the ground to see how that would look. I am also going to do more experiments with charcoal or white pigment powder combined with the light drawings as a way of looking at impermanence and movement in drawing caused by air. This is an extension of a similar experiment I did last year using the light drawing as a stencil and allowing the unfixed pigment to fall as the drawing was placed on the wall. During the time of residency, I plan on drawing aspects of the landscape as well as using it as a source of inspiration to see what potentially eventuates. I also plan on experimenting further with moving images, using natural light with the drawings and documenting this over time using stop motion photography.
05 – Description of project report or thesis – written element
For the second written component, I am going to write a thesis as I found this process to be invaluable in consolidating the research into manageable content. It also provided a tool for the evaluation of the research and its relevance to the studio work and vice versa.
06 – Project results, e.g. documentation, performance, script, intervention, website, exhibition, book, journal
The project will result in a series of large scaled drawings that will be projected somehow (with light, sound, air &/or scent) so that the drawings occupy the surrounding 3-dimensional space and will only engage when the presence of a human occupies this space (using proximity sensors). There will also be some form of visual/photographic and written documentation of the time spent in an isolated landscape. This will be presented in the form of a digital journal that explores further the potential held within moving images.
07 – Brief description of research method
Research for this project will be a combination of theory-based investigations into the scientific and psychological components of the project combined with an exploration of the potential for technology and drawing to be connected to define a three-dimensional space. The connection between human and non-human elements of the project will be explored through the rhythm of the heart and breath as an expression of light. The residency in an isolated landscape as a way of exploring the potential of air, contemporary drawing and technology will also form part of the research. I will also be studying different modern and traditional techniques that focus on the potential to control biological cycles such as the heart and breath through movement while drawing. I also plan on continuing the research into the art practice of the artists Tacita Dean, Robert Irwin, William Kentridge, Olafur Eliasson and James Turrell as well as other artists recommended by the advisors.
08 – Initial bibliography for written element
Abram, David, The Spell of the Sensuous: perception and language in a more-than-human world, Vintage Books, New York, 1996.
Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Nils Bubant, Elaine Gan, & Heather Anne Swanson, editors, Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene, United States, University of Minnesota Press, 2017
Arbesmand, Samuel, Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension, Current Publishers, 2016
Bachelard, Gaston, The Poetics of Space, Boston, Beacon Press, 1994
Braidotti, Rosi, The Posthuman, Polity Publishers, 2013
Brulé, Dan, Just Breath: Mastering Breath Work, United States, Atria/Enliven Books; 2017
Cacioppo, John & Patrick William, Loneliness: Human Nature & the Need for Social Connection, United Kingdom, W. W. Norton & Company, 2009
Cacioppo, John, Social Neuroscience, United Kingdom, Psychology Press, 2004
Chiang, Ted, The Great Silence, Electric Literature, 2016
Connolly, William E., Facing the Planetary: Entangled Humanism and the Politics of Swarming, United States, Duke University Press, 2017
Copper Ramo, Joshua, The Seventh Sense, Little Brown & Company, 2016
Crawford, Matthew, The World Beyond Your Head, United Kingdom, Penguin, 2015
Davis, Heather & Etienne Turpin, editors, Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies, London, Open Humanities Press, 2015
de Botton, Alain, The Consolations of Philosophy, United Kingdom, Penguin Publishers, 2001
Delanda, Manuel & Graham Harman, The Rise of Realism, United Kingdom, Polity Publishers, 2017
Demos, T.J., Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology, Berlin, Sternberg Press, 2016
Eagleman, David, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, New York, Vintage, 2012
Eagleman, David, The Brain (Documentary) BBC, 2015
Grosz, Elizabeth, The Incorporeal: Ontology, Ethics, and the Limits of Materialism, United Kingdom, Columbia University Press, 2017
Hackett, Paul, Fine Art and Perceptual Neuroscience: Field of Vision and the Painted Grid, United Kingdom, Psychology Press, 2013
Hett, W.S., trans., Aristotle: On the Soul, Parva Naturalia, on Breath, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1957
Hof, Wim & Justine Rosales, Becoming the Iceman, Minneapolis, Mill City Press, 2011
Hoffman, Andrew J., How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate, United States, Stanford Briefs, 2015
Horn, Thomas & Nita Horn, Forbidden Gates, Defender Publishing, 2011
James, Nicholas, James Turrell: Inside Outside, United Kingdom, Cv Publications, 2011
Jordan, James, Mark Moliterno & Nova Thomas, The Musician's Breath: The Role of Breathing in Human Expression, United States, Gia Publications, 2013
Jung, C.G, Modern Man in Search of a Soul. The United Kingdom, Harcourt Harvest, 1955
Jung, C.G, The Earth has a Soul: C.G. Jung on Nature, Technology & Modern Life. California, North Atlantic Books, 2002
Kahn, Peter & Hasbach, Patricia, Ecopsychology: Science, Totems & Technological Species. Cambridge, MIT Press, 2012
Kalanithi, Paul, When Breath Becomes Air, United Kingdom, Vintage Digital, 2016
Kandel, Eric, Reductionism in Art and Brain Science: Bridging the Two Cultures, New York, Columbia University Press, 2016
Kosky, Jeffery L., Arts of Wonder: Enchanting Secularity – Walter De Maria, Diller + Scofidio, James Turrell, Andy Goldsworthy, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2016
Kurzweil, Ray, How to Create a Mind: the secrets of human thought revealed, United States, Penguin Books, 2013
Levine, Caroline, Forms: Whole, Rhythms, Hierarchy, Network, United States, Princeton University Press, 2015
Marshall, Russell & Sawdon, Phil, Hyperdrawing. Beyond the Lines of Contemporary Drawing. I.B. New York, Tauris & Co Ltd, 2012
Martin, Dr. Bernard, Mental Silence, Switzerland, Xlibris Publishers, 2015
Martin, Paul, Making space for creativity, United Kingdom, University of Brighton, 2010
Morton, Timothy, Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence, Columbia University Press, 2016
Purdy, Jedediah, After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene, United States, Harvard University Press, 2015
Rogers, Angela, Drawing Encounters: A practice-led investigation into collaborative drawing as a means of revealing tacit elements of one-to-one social encounter, Ph.D. Thesis for the University of Arts London, 2008
Ramacharaka, Yogi, Science of Breath, Greece, Skyros Publishing, 2015 (Kindle)
Rogers, Angela, Making Space for Creativity (Documentary), 2010, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrjzZypcX_U
Ramachandran, V.S. The Tell-Tale Brain. A neuroscientist's quest for what makes us human, New York, W.W. Norton & Company, 2012
Royoux, Jean-Christophe, Marina Warner & Germaine Greer, Tacita Dean, United Kingdom, Phaidon Press, 2006
Sabine Flach & Gary Sheman, editors, Naturally Hypernatural III: Hypernatural Landscapes in the Anthropocene, Berlin, Peter Lang Publishing, 2016
Simms, Matthew, Robert Irwin A conditional Art, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2016
Turkle, Sherry, Alone Together: Why we more from technology and less from each other, Chicago, Basic Books, 2012
Turkle, Sherry, Simulation and its Discontent, Cambridge, The MIT Press, 2009
Turkle, Sherry, The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, Massachusetts, The MIT Press, 2005
Van Campen, Cretien, The Hidden Sense: synesthesia in art and science, Massachusetts, The MIT Press, 2008.
Weschler, Lawrence, seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees, California, University of California Press, 2008.
09 – Research question or hypothesis for the thesis.
How do we carry the marks and nuances of our shared experience?
10 – Intended audience
At this stage, there is no intended audience as the outcome is not predetermined, so neither is the audience. The work will be the result of the process, and the audience will be in response to the work.
11 – Short statement on your current practice
A multi-disciplinary practice that focuses on the psychology of the human experience based on the perception of the individual compared with how that perception shifts when we grasp the idea of being apart of the vast and connected whole.
12 – Formulate entire project in 2-3 meaningful sentences.
Experimentation in breath, solitude and contemporary drawing as a tool to glimpse the connection we share with each other and the natural world. Light, scale, and pace will be the mediums with which to draw and isolation in a vast, breathing landscape will be at the foundation of the project.
13 – Technical description and production process including medium, quantity, size or duration
At this stage, I am still experimenting, so a certain technical description is not possible. I hope to create a series of large scaled drawings approx. 4m x 2.5m. However, due to the nature of the process, the number of the drawings that will be completed by Berlin 2018 cannot be predetermined. Each drawing will ‘feed' into the one next to it.
14 – Connect past and future project
For me, the MFA second year will be a continuation of the research and experimental studio practice from the first year. There will be a flow between the two years that will be connected regarding both the research and the content of the studio work. I hope that the experiments will lead to an immersive drawing installation but at this stage in what form the space takes is completely open to the experimental nature of the process.
15 – Connect studio and research project (if separate), explain how they inform each other.
Both the studio and research project inform each other – I found that the research paper in the MFA1 was invaluable in that it reinforced the relevance of the research to the studio practice and in turn, the developments of the studio practice influenced the direction of the research. I found them both to be inextricably linked and not divided into separate parts.
16 – Brief description of conceptual motivation
Conceptually motivated by drawing parallels between understanding the science behind complex networks through an investigation into one of the most intimate network we share with the non-human world - the breath. Part of this understanding hopefully emerges from an immersive experience in silence and connection to an isolated landscape (space) as a meditation on the ideas and potential held in air, light and contemporary drawing.
17 – Short description and abstract (50-100 word) of written element
What began as an investigation into (accelerated) time, (inter) connection, network entanglement and the posthuman Anthropocene has since been distilled into a single, simple, elusive and yet pervasive phenomena...Air.
18 – Proportion of written/practical element
70% Practical and 30% written
19 – Possible location for the project
Residency in Iceland or the desert in Australia
20 – Timeline for realisation of project
· MFA proposal finish
· Application for Hafnarborg Iceland
· Research and apply to alternative options to the above application
· Summer Courses – sign up and readings
· Light Drawing cont.
· Experiment with smoke and the drawings
· Plan a new drawing
· The Spell of the Sensuous: perception and language in a more-than-human world
· Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension (k)
· Robert Irwin A conditional Art
· Just Breath (k)
· Reading Diary
· Light Drawing cont.
· Experiment with charcoal and pigment powder
· Berlin Residency
· Facing the Planetary: Entangled Humanism and the Politics of Swarming (k)
· Science of Breath, Greece (k)
· Tacita Dean
· Berlin Residency
· The Incorporeal: Ontology, Ethics, and the Limits of Materialism (k)
· How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate (k)
· Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology (k)
· Light Drawing cont.
· Plan for Residency Nov/Dec or Jan/Feb
· Reductionism in Art and Brain Science
· Arts of Wonder: Enchanting Secularity – Walter De Maria, Diller + Scofidio, James Turrell, Andy Goldsworthy
· Forms: Whole, Rhythms, Hierarchy, Network (k)
· Light Drawing cont.
· Possible time for Residency
· The Tell-Tale Brain. A neuroscientist's quest for what makes us human
· The Secret Lives of the Brain
· Re-watch – The Brain documentary
· Becoming the Iceman (k)
· Possible time for Residency
· Light Drawing cont.
· Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments, and Epistemologies
· Fine Art and Perceptual Neuroscience: Field of Vision and the Painted Grid
· When Breath Becomes Air (k)
· Possible time for Residency
· Light Drawing cont.
· James Turrell: Inside Outside (k)
· New York Residency
· Review and plan following months after Residency.
21 – Budget
Residency in Iceland $3000 or Residency in Australia $800
22 – Additional supporting information