Emerging from and disappearing towards dust
AffiliationSchool of Art
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2017 Dr. Hannah Bertram
The research investigates the ambiguity of permanence and impermanence using the medium of dust. This is achieved by: considering the relationship between ephemeral art and documentation; identifying the material and poetic possibilities of dust in relation to time; and through the melancholy experience of preservation and loss in the artworks. This thesis articulates the concept of “enduring temporality,” addressing questions about what we seek to preserve compared to what we identify as worthless, and the paradox of experiencing life as perpetual while knowing we will return to dust. The creative works, which form the partial fulfillment of this PhD, include: temporary installations; evolving site-specific works; potentially enduring forms of documentation; performances; and archiving work in human memory. Collectively, these artworks create a complex cloud of associations that drift, gather, and disperse the concepts of durability and temporality, value and worthlessness, and it is concluded from this that they create tensions and ambiguities between these themes. The artworks are themselves a unique kind of research, and the type of knowledge that they contribute is raises questions that are allowed to remain as questions. The written component of the research is a companion to, and conceptual extension of, the artworks. Drawing on the fields of philosophy, science, literature, poetry, and art, it presents five contributions to new knowledge. These include reframing concepts through new terms: dust as an “enduring temporality,” and decoration as mode of ordering and display. Additions to theory and philosophy have also been made through the arguments that documentation can be reframed as a doppelgänger, and that dust provides a way to understand the blurring of the human/non-human binary (as claimed by the philosophic field of New Materialism). It has also been posed that the artworks provide an opportunity to contemplate the value of the quotidian and to reflect on our own fleeting existence.
Keywordsdust; decoration; emphemeral art; documentation; installation; contemporary art; perfromance art
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- School of Art - Theses