|dc.description.abstract||Driven by a studio-based practice that explores the sensual attributes of materiality, my PhD research project investigates the aesthetics and metaphysics of transparency and translucence. Transparency and translucence are understood as material attributes: the former defined as ‘capable of transmitting light so that objects or images can be seen as if there were no intervening material; so fine in texture that it can be seen through, sheer’; the latter defined as ‘transmitting light but causing sufficient diffusion to prevent perception of distinct images’ and only secondarily as ‘clear, lucid’.
The dissertation pivots on two research questions: firstly, beyond its literal definition, what does transparency connote? Secondly, if there is history of transparency, of what does it comprise? A shadow question asks what is the relationship of transparency to time? The research is interdisciplinary: it investigates these questions traversing the fields of visual art (contemporary and historical), architecture, literature (literary fiction and science fiction), and Continental and Object-oriented philosophy.
Through the research process a neglected term has been discovered: ‘translucence’. In the fields researched, ‘transparency’ has been valorised at the expense of ‘translucence’, which remains a lesser critically mentioned term. The thesis seeks to resuscitate this lesser mentioned term.
The thesis argues that a cultural, historical and philosophical association exists between the aesthetics of material transparency and translucence, fantasies of utopia and the subject of time. The research charts the historical invocation of transparency and translucence, and unearths the ways in which they have been used as contrary tropes of temporality, dreaming, desire and dread. The research has also located the figurative dimension of transparency and translucence in the persistent image of the crystal. This motif recurs through the text and is the figure most conspicuously linked to the notion of time.
My exploration of transparency and translucence has taken place across the realms of studio practice and academic research. Both the studio practice and the dissertation represent avenues of research understood as mutually constitutive of the thesis on transparency. The dialogue between these two dimensions has powered the investigation, allowing research across academic and artistic domains to be a spur to the development of each. These dual components weave a complex material-textual interstice that is both correspondent and divergent, autonomous and dialectical.||en_US