Defining Argument

Defining Argument for dissertation so far (1st draft) – I am hoping that this will help me to structure next month’s group presentation…

For the purpose of this study, I will define some terms which have informed my choices and research journey…
Narrative: The practice or art of telling stories
Socio-narratology: stories’ ability to act in the making of narrative selves and in making life social
Dialogical narrative analysis: the mirroring between what is told and what happens as a result of telling the story (effects)
Trace: indication of existence; to draw
Encounter: An unexpected meeting with someone or something
Reader/Viewer: The subject who encounters the ‘text’/work
Chapter 1 explores how artworks function as ‘pages’ to communicate narrative
There are many theories and dialogues around discourse and artist intentions. I am questioning how we experience artworks, how artists play with their understanding of our experience and how intentions for experience are shaped by encounters. Experience is always in relation to something else. How this relates to encounters over time is a problem when discussing narrative works as one must consider physical and conceptual timelines and boundaries.
Ingold’s insightful Lines: A Brief History observes that ‘…Telling the story of the journey as I draw, I weave a narrative thread that wanders from topic to topic, just as in my walk I wandered from place to place.’ (pp. 87 INGOLD) In likening storytelling to a journey, Ingold establishes an interdisciplinary dialogue which invites comparisons between conceptual and physical retelling and retracing of tales. This also highlights parallels between gesture and narrative which is particularly relevant in the context of visual arts as the maker’s mark records their presence at the site of the physical work’s surface, in the same way that a pathway is marked by the trace of footsteps. In fact, he writes about how through the retelling of stories, the storyteller ‘may also gesture with their hands and fingers, and these gestures may in turn give rise to lines.’ (INGOLD) pp. 84 If the same can be assumed for an artist, whether this is through painting, drawing or a performative gesture caught by a camera’s lens, the physical presence of lines in artworks may be indicative of storytelling or narrative themes. To extend this, if we equate artworks in isolation to single meeting points on a map, there is perhaps less suggestion of narrative as the context is eliminated. Therefore, when considering works in series (or a meandering journey between places) there are parallels in the creation of lines and grids which help the viewer to understand the work better as each piece sits in relation to others in a narrative style. Chronology is less important, but the appearance of multiple fragments together, constructs a more connected ‘story’ than those pieces experienced alone.
Chapter 2 discusses the relationship between boundaries and storytelling
Bahktin’s view is that ‘…The author’s outsideness allows for ‘an ‘excess of seeing’ and, thus, of knowledge: the author can contain the hero in a field of vision far wider than that of any of the characters themselves; he can know what the hero is in principle incapable of knowing.’ (pp.26 Erdinast-Vulcan) Considered in relation to the making of artworks, this places artists in a position of power as they create the product that the reader/viewer encounters, which involves a fully formed narrative and intention. Frank’s dialogical narrative analysis takes into account the reader/viewer’s experience when encountering work and sets up an exchange of power. He asserts that stories shape experience and are instrumental in the making of narrative selves; ‘…the story itself can be the trickster, as it enacts resistances that, for the present, lack other forms of enactment…there is always the complementary, dangerous side: power can use stories to justify its entitlements.’ (Frank. Pp.77)
Artists’ intentions in this sense are only the initial codes placed for the moment of encounter, but the physical encounter with the work itself shifts power to within the work. The visual exploration of boundaries in this context, may suggest a state of flux where the work ‘acts’, moving away from the maker and beyond its intentional territory. The depiction of figures in a two-dimensional plane forms a sense of narrative but also a captures a transition representing a state of becoming.

Curating a Collection

This is the work that I have so far in my latest development of work – some is unfinished but I find it useful to bring the pieces together to consider them as a whole collection. The multiple nature of my work is essential to the idea – a series of pages relating to an inner library of experience. I have found that it can be useful to look at work in series while making, but this can also be distracting, as I begin to make like-for-like marks. I feel that this can make a generic looking painting rather than pieces in their own right. However, the colour palette and vocabulary of marks are important elements in linking, as well as the reappearance of some figures in different picture planes.

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