PhD Submission

PhD Submission

University of sunderland
31 March 2011

An evaluation of the link between abstraction, representation and language within the context of current theories of Environmental Aesthetics and Phenomenology

 

My External Examiners described my submission as ‘a very distinguished effort of sustained research’ which has ‘manifest integrity’ and is ‘markedly original’. It was, they said, ‘deeply researched … the writing lucid and engaging, without slack or superfluous passages and with an incessant pressure of enquiry and argument’. They further wrote that it was ‘an extremely authentic and convincing thesis … a fine example of a practioner thinking through artwork and articulating its development’.

 

To read the abstract, please click on the more information box below. A downloadable PDF of my PhD can be found on the right hand side of this page.

 

Abstract

 

This research looks at both subjective and objective ways of mediating our experience of the natural world through art and concludes that both approaches are of value. It considers art (and in particular abstract art) as a language, or text, to be read and interpreted objectively as well as a means of subjective, poetic expression. It explores the possibility that colour (as a medium that is both relative and at the same time subjective) may provide a useful link between a subjective and objective perception of the natural world. 

 

It demonstrates that the theories and practice of abstraction, language and colour are intertwined. It proposes that phenomenology, and especially the work of Merleau-Ponty, links these areas of cultural thought and activity; and that the practical, ethical and embodied expression of this philosophy can be represented through walking, expressed as a physical activity and mediated through art. 

 

Practically, the research was developed in the studio and tracked through a series of written chapters written one at a time over a period of six years. A contextual overview has been added at the end of each chapter. These were written after the last chapter (chapter ten) was completed, and constructed within the space of a couple of months. 

 

This overlapping of time frames serves to highlight the Bricolage methodology used throughout the PhD. This approach, first proposed by Levis Strauss (The Savage Mind, 1962) ‘acknowledges that research takes place in the real world – is complex and sometimes ‘messy’, open to change, interaction and development’ (Gray and Malins, 2004). 

 

The written content of the PhD is presented alongside an exhibition of work in the Reg Vardy Gallery in Sunderland, demonstrating the link between theory and practice that the methodology employed highlights.

 

Mike Collier, supervised by Dr. Carol McKay and Professor Brian Thompson, September 2010

 

Abstract

 

This research looks at both subjective and objective ways of mediating our experience of the natural world through art and concludes that both approaches are of value. It considers art (and in particular abstract art) as a language, or text, to be read and interpreted objectively as well as a means of subjective, poetic expression. It explores the possibility that colour (as a medium that is both relative and at the same time subjective) may provide a useful link between a subjective and objective perception of the natural world. 

 

It demonstrates that the theories and practice of abstraction, language and colour are intertwined. It proposes that phenomenology, and especially the work of Merleau-Ponty, links these areas of cultural thought and activity; and that the practical, ethical and embodied expression of this philosophy can be represented through walking, expressed as a physical activity and mediated through art. 

 

Practically, the research was developed in the studio and tracked through a series of written chapters written one at a time over a period of six years. A contextual overview has been added at the end of each chapter. These were written after the last chapter (chapter ten) was completed, and constructed within the space of a couple of months. 

 

This overlapping of time frames serves to highlight the Bricolage methodology used throughout the PhD. This approach, first proposed by Levis Strauss (The Savage Mind, 1962) ‘acknowledges that research takes place in the real world – is complex and sometimes ‘messy’, open to change, interaction and development’ (Gray and Malins, 2004). 

 

The written content of the PhD is presented alongside an exhibition of work in the Reg Vardy Gallery in Sunderland, demonstrating the link between theory and practice that the methodology employed highlights.

 

Mike Collier, supervised by Dr. Carol McKay and Professor Brian Thompson, September 2010