Date of Award

12-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Legacy Department

Visual Arts

Advisor

David M. Detrich

Committee Member

Todd A. McDonald

Committee Member

Beth Anne Lauritis

Abstract

My practice takes form around embodied experience. I affect signifiers of the human body within the ordered grid, the scientific text, and the logic of the machine, to highlight the interdependencies of physical bodies and those social constructs that produce and influence identity. We are a part of these constructs that both extend and limit; we are enacting and interacting with them. I do not aim to eradicate these structures of power (without them, our identities are in chaos). Instead, I point out the pitfalls of these constructs that are perceived as unchanging, by making interaction and experience integral to the experience of my works. I seek to break down the boundaries between the viewer and work. I aim to not only show that corporeal being does not encompass all that we are, but also to question our placement and authority within social contexts.

I make artwork dependent on interaction, in the works Salt and Grid; I give the audience an agency to act within or upon the work to highlight their connection and potential disruption to neutrality and order. Untitled is a personal staged performance. With Removing Oneself from the Body, I challenged the logic of self by dissecting a scientific context and thus separating it from the signifier of self. In #39854 and The Machine has Empathy, I have taken into consideration how the audience both encounters, and is encountered by the work through sound and material. The audience and the machine are driving a new subject that emerged from within the text by the “I”s. In every instance I have explored how identity is lost, changed, and built from contexts that are resistant to the physical body.

I contend that showing an art object as a concrete fixed point, or in an unchanging state, is problematic because this is inaccurate. The contexts I adopt carry powers that are very rarely seen as transformative, impermanent, or flawed. I am uncomfortable with the division between permanence and ephemerality. I reject how the body is seen as this prehistoric thing and is excluded from these economies. That is why I place them together fusing the corporeal with logic until the contexts shift to accommodate for human interaction.

I use corporeal markers differently than I affect cold and clinical contexts. I recognize I have biases, and I take responsibility for the elements I adopt, including my suspicions of physical constructs that read as permanent and hierarchies that seem to exclude or define bodies, even though these constructs are in fact plastic. The audience should be inside of the work, but also affecting it, understanding of its power and their placement in it to better question and reconsider what adds up to being.

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