Installation thoughts for self portrait. Influence of Soren Kierkegaard.

Gown ordered from MedisaveUK and duplicated in Photoshop to represent the number of gowns and their positioning in the installation.

I have been speaking about temporality and my interest in science, philosophy and the role of art in communicating theoretical concepts. When looking at a mediums suitability for conveying one's thinking a lot of thought goes into how that medium reinforces concepts and brings the elements of an idea together more successfully than another. I am interested in working across a broad range of mediums in the exploratory stage to find the best way of communicating my thinking about a given idea.

I think it is possible through installation to engage with my particular argument here in a stronger way and thus I am interested in exploring this. A lot of my thinking is about scientific rigour or the field of science as exemplifying a certain cultural acceptance of 'truth'. Using installation to delve into this, allows art as theory (which is what I believe it is now) to become culturally universal. That is solid theoretical concepts transcend culture and as such Heidegger is as relevant in his discussions about the nature of being and time to a global audience not just to a German or European one. Art to me has to become theory if it is to transcend a purely banal aesthetic response to the world. I think other mediums have now surpassed Arts original function and it has lost swathes of its historical power. To me its role now is to exist like science and philosophy upon the edges of our understanding. It has to engage fully within the realms of philosophical and scientific thinking or else be left behind as history.

In pushing the notion of self portrait into the world of theory and using installation to strengthen that idea, art can engage with the spaces that dominate our lives. What relevance is there in painting a face in a world of the photographic image other than to exhibit one's technique or craftsmanship. The world is so complex and the human being is extended by technology so much now that the individual exits in several places at once. The self is my finger whilst I type, my IPad screen, the telecommunications signals transferring my thoughts into bits to be stored upon a server to be accessed by others. If I am here but also there whilst you read this where am I? Is Facebook an extension of my nervous system? How can a painting of me say anything other than something about the techniques of the painter if it is representational of me as I physically am. How is a beautiful xerox relevant anymore?

I am taking as influence Soren Kierkegaard's book 'The sickness unto death' which was published in 1849. I was particularly interested in how Kierkegaard felt that despair was an inevitable part of the human condition and that it resulted from a fundamental imbalance of the self. Self has different polarities that it has to deal with and it cannot. In order that one might break through these differences and manage despair and cope with identity, as this self relation between different polarities, it needs to be grounded in a faith. This was for Kierkegaard the only way to cure the self's imbalance and deal with the basic despair at the heart of being human. I extracted from this my basis of faith as being a symbol of surety or giving willingness and a hopeful balm for an idea of the soul. There must be something that can alleviate our suffering, prayer or medication, we take what we store our trust in.

So we have a deep cultural history of giving the self over and in Kierkegaard's mind this was a supreme being, the creator, God. In 2012 science is exploring ideas of itself being the creator, the curer and the ultimate modern symbol of 'truth' which permeates a lot of current debate between scientific atheists and those who believe in a creator God. God was at the epicentre of the recent American election process. Mitt Romney stated that laws actually came from God, a supreme being, and that there should be a greater link between theology and politics. Sixty years early president Kennedy declared such a link to be dangerous despite his own Catholic faith. It's a question spanning ages and self portraiture seems an opportunity for the artist to engage with that in unique ways. I am interested in using the language of art to not only reflect my own personal subjective response (the piece) but to also always refer back to cultural ideas that resonate in the viewer as well.

In my thoughts about this piece the medical gowns are suspended neatly and in an orderly rigorous flow to represent scientific notions of discipline, rigour and truth. The surface of the gowns will be used as a receptive screen for a video projection which intimately engages with a very personal notion of the self but also one that resonates within every other individual also. The projection will exist across all of the gowns surfaces and as it is a moving image the intention is to break that image across the gowns so that it doesn't join in one constant point. The gowns from front to back will have a distance of about 6 feet and will be layered as in the image. As a projection requires a focal point there will be aspects that are clear and aspects not so which formulates thoughts about the point of 'truth' being a moving target a place of focus perhaps depending upon the position of your perspective. I am also interested in perhaps writing a quasi religious piece of music to be playing so that I can further reinforce the idea of worship or the historical forms of seeking comfort which engage with in deferring the self to an agreed greater symbol of certainty or knowledge.

I am currently working with a medical lab (layer post) using dark field microscope techniques to obtain the information particular to me which will eventually construct the video images for display across the medical surfaces. The idea is at an early stage and as with all of my posts currently exploratory theory. For me if I am not engaging with theory and philosophical ideas way before I seek to produce a visual proposition and outcome then I am not making anything that is in any way relevant in 2012.

The piece is designed to engage with ideas about the self which are common to all but will have philosophical connections to me as an individual. It will exist in a space that reinforces directly communicable ideas but also ones that raise questions about how science increasingly defines the self for us and how we learn to rely upon what philosophers would argue is at best only an approximation of truth. Religion provided certainty for thousands of years and art evolved out of veneration of another being a figure of certainty and truth. I argue that the medical gown is an equally valid symbol of a form which could be semi religious iconography (belief symbol) in the 21st century and as relevant in art as Russian icon painting was 600 years ago to the audiences who were then absorbing it.

I think in each project as artists we need to be asking very big questions about why art is appropriate for expressing certain ideas. Why are we choosing art over literature say or pure philosophical discussions in order to express ourselves. If our answer is to somehow only produce an aesthetic response then I personally feel that this is no longer relevant as art but rather instead is an expression of craftsmanship. I want to speak with visual ideas and be involved in scientific thought and philosophical argument and reflect the culture and engage with ideas. I don't want art to merely reflect back a beautiful imitation of something else because otherwise I am not part of any debate and I do not sit upon the edge of something that is moving forward. I am instead still locked in a history of aesthetics and a cage of lonesome beauty.


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