The floating world : an investigation into illustrative and decorative art practices and theory in print media and animation

Murray, P 2008, The floating world : an investigation into illustrative and decorative art practices and theory in print media and animation, Masters by Research, Art, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title The floating world : an investigation into illustrative and decorative art practices and theory in print media and animation
Author(s) Murray, P
Year 2008
Abstract Considered under the theme 'The Floating World', the aim of this research project was to create a written exegesis and a series of artworks, primarily in the form of digital animation and illustration, which investigate decorative and illustrative art practices and their historical lineages. Particular emphasis was given to investigating the links between contemporary decorative/illustrative art practice and the aesthetics and psychology of the Edo period in Japan (C17th - C19th), in which the term 'The Floating World' was used to describe the city of Edo (old Tokyo). The writing concerned with The Floating World is comprised of the following chapters: history; concepts; aesthetics; contemporary adaptations of Ukiyo-e; and gothic romance and associated genres.

The outcomes of my Masters program represent a sustained exploration of decorative and illustrative art practice and theory, and incorporate experimentation with associated genres such as magic realism, gothic romance, the uncanny, iconography, surrealism and other metaphorical and abstract representational practices. More broadly, my Masters project is an investigation, both theoretical and practical, into the way drawing and illustration have been a process through which to (literally) give shape to hopes and fears, and to describe understandings of self and the world.

I am particularly interested in exploring how, through the act of abstraction and the use of metaphor and decoration, a capacity to 'speak the unspeakable' and 'know the unknowable' are somehow enabled. For example, when contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami decorates Edo-inspired screens with a colourful arrangement of morphing cartoon mushrooms, he conjures up a startling and complex poetic space that juxtaposes traditional Japanese aesthetics and philosophy with the hyper-consumerist characters and ethos of Disneyland, as well as disquieting references to the mushroom bombs that dropped down on Hiroshima and Nagasaki from US planes. A similarly complex space is enacted by contemporary US artist Inka Essenhigh: her oversized canvases seem like sublime Japanese-inspired screens but a closer inspection reveals that the decorative motifs are actually dismembered body parts morphed together to create a savage and compelling metaphor for contemporary America that is all the more disarming for being perf ormed in a seemingly innocuous illustrative style. My research will draw on these examples but will endeavour to create a series of artworks that are particular to an Australian context. This interests me particularly in a time when, as a nation, we appear to be confounded about what it means to be Australian: as a contemporary artist I am interested in how we represent ourselves as a nation, and in exploring the motifs and attributes that we consider to be ours.
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Art
Keyword(s) Graphic arts
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Created: Wed, 16 Feb 2011, 12:59:54 EST
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