Jewellery in the urban milieu: explorations in emergence

Chan, J 2014, Jewellery in the urban milieu: explorations in emergence, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Art, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Chan_Part_3_Project_Milieu04_Conclusion.pdf Thesis application/pdf 88.63MB
Title Jewellery in the urban milieu: explorations in emergence
Author(s) Chan, J
Year 2014
Abstract Jewellery in the urban milieu is a practice-led PhD that explores connections between jewellery and the city. This research positions jewellery – as a practice and an artefact – as both immersed within and emergent from the material and lived conditions of the city, and explores how jewellery can encourage the emergence of new possibilities for life within the city. The PhD takes up the operational analogy of the saprophyte, an organism that decomposes organic matter and recirculates nutrients through its ecosystem, as a parallel for how jewellery might intervene in, transform and recirculate the city’s flows of materials. This analogy has enabled jewellery practice to expand to encompass processes of milieu-exploration, gathering, material-transformation, interactive wearing-projects and photography. The PhD comprises a series of projects that develop and repeat these processes within specific urban situations of Melbourne, Ramallah, Melbourne's Chinatown, and Christchurch. Within these situations the saprophyte analogy has fostered an attitude of entering into a situation and working ‘in the thick of things’, allowing practice and thinking to be exposed to the forces, constraints and opportunities of each situation. As research, this expanded range of jewellery processes has given rise to particular points of focus and lines of thinking on jewellery and its relations with the urban milieu. In the earlier projects experimentation and thinking revolved around engaging the city through the making of jewellery. This included interest in the urban milieu's flows of materials and approaching of the city as a material-ecology; the potential for waste material to be transformed into something new and take on a new life on the body; attention to how practice evolves in counterpoint with a surrounding milieu; how the resulting artefacts accentuate aspects of that milieu; and how the significance of the artefacts is shaped by and shifts according to associations they elicit within particular locations.

In the later projects the research focus moved towards relations between the artefacts and the situations they were produced in. This developed from observations of how the artefacts affected perceptions of a surrounding situation (and vice versa) and people's reactions to the work, and moved towards experiments with wearing. These projects pointed to the sensory and relational affects of wearing, and focused on wearing as a mode for encountering the city in a new way. This practice-led research makes a contribution to a growing area of contemporary jewellery practice that operates within the urban realm, by attending to how jewellery can be produced in response to material conditions of the city, and goes onto affect the lived experience of the city. In particular this research goes beyond jewellery's decorative or symbolic function to foreground jewellery's capacity to provoke new sensory experiences and active engagements of inhabitants with their urban surrounds. As such this research positions jewellery practice in a distinctive way – as one engaged in the city, both at the level of its material and ecological conditions, as well as a practice that makes new connections with the milieus or ‘bubble-worlds’ we inhabit in the city. This research also recasts the jewellery artefact as both defined through acts of transforming materials and also through the relations and associations it elicits and performs.

Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Art
Keyword(s) jewellery,
contemporary jewellery
Christchurch earthquake
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Created: Wed, 15 Oct 2014, 08:49:53 EST by Denise Paciocco
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