Portion of the surface never seen: the perceptual construction of unseen realities

Boyle, C 2015, Portion of the surface never seen: the perceptual construction of unseen realities, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Art, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Portion of the surface never seen: the perceptual construction of unseen realities
Author(s) Boyle, C
Year 2015
Abstract Imaging technology has vastly extended human perception by enabling access to aspects of reality that may never be seen with the naked eye, such as a distant galaxy or the blinding light of an eclipse. This project proposes that technologically mediated images form a perceptual bridge between what we know and what we can imagine, playing a pivotal role in constructing our perception of the unseen. By drawing on the work of image historians, theorists, and artists dealing with visual perception, this research project explores the specific question of how imagination interacts with photographs in order to perceptually construct an image of what would otherwise remain unseen.

Photographic imagery produced by space exploration is used throughout the project as an example of what may constitute an “unseen reality” but the notion of the unseen is also explored through the histories of art and of science, philosophy, geometry, the rhetoric of framing, theories of perception and of photography. Imagination is defined primarily through selected philosophical interpretations, and its possible intersection with visual analogy is examined via analysis of historic and contemporary examples from the arts and sciences. A key objective of this project was to produce artworks that form an interface between seeing and imagining in order to explore perception of “unseen realities”. To do this, a vocabulary of materiality was developed in recognition of the legacy of Modernist artists who explored the visual and conceptual concerns of perceptual experience: light, shadow, reflection, and geometry coming to form the basis of the project’s practical work. Creative practice provided a workshop for testing imaginative processes and the tautological idea of visualizing the unseen. A practice of generic, everyday photography provided a means of exploring photographic perception from the inside, ultimately highlighting the uneasy relationship between objective and subjective modes of seeing that the camera
engages in.

It is intended that this research will contribute to understanding the connections between technology, representation and knowledge. In combining creative practice with disparate concepts from science, art, history, and visual discourse, this project attempts to create what Roger Kemp describes as a “nodal point” where knowledge and imagination meet. This project proposes that imagination has the potential to construct a more holistic reality than the fractured one brought to us by images, albeit one that will never truly be seen.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Art
Subjects Fine Arts (incl. Sculpture and Painting)
Keyword(s) perception
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Created: Wed, 14 Oct 2015, 08:15:56 EST by Keely Chapman
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