Placing pattern: mining a marine magnitude

Miles, Candace Anita (2008) Placing pattern: mining a marine magnitude. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Abstract

Local place, and our connection to it, has tended to lose ground within an atmosphere that continues to homogenize the particular and the individual in the context of the global. Increasingly we are concerned with environmental issues yet we persistently establish a divide between ourselves and the natural environment. Local natural places continue to diminish within the physical spaces of our lived environment. Time and space begin to distort and overlap so that one place seems much the same as another; becoming monomorphic and generic which, in a paradoxical way, denies us the capacity to have a particular place connection. These issues underlie many contemporary problems and have also acted as a potent driver for this research. This study addresses the issue of how the individual artist working with objects and subjects of place and affected by emergent aspatiality might reconcile a personal disconnection to local place - through a re-entering - and what effect this might have on aesthetic outcomes.

The research aimed to elucidate a personal view of place through the forms and patterns revealed by the eye of the traveller in place looking through a scientific lens, to construct responses to smaller and larger forms of place by triggering an awareness by which the viewer may re-evaluate initial perceptions of local place through an idiosyncratic subjectifying and objectifying of subject, object and image. Five littoral zones within the place particular - the Townsville region were selected for analysis. This took the form of detailed sampling through the application of a dual process - the personal new eye aesthetic of a traveller (the idiosyncratic perspective), and the adoption of a scientific paradigm (the systematic method).

The history of art and science and human placement has a parallel and intertwined relationship and evidence of this is gathered through the literature sourced. To equip this expedition this literature was assembled from two main avenues of enquiry - science and place. The scientific perspective was gained through readings encompassing the viewpoints of early and contemporary thought on mathematics, nature's dynamic structuring and patterning system. From the foundations laid by the revered theories of form and space of the Ancient Greeks to the entwined mathematics of biological form and structure espoused through the work of D'arcy Wentworth Thompson, the chaos theory of Mendelson, Mandelbrot, the expansive views of Lancelot Whyte, E O Wilson, Peter Stevens, Philip Ball, Ian Stewart, and Mario Livia are among the many paths viewed to gain an understanding of the filter applied to this research. An understanding of the notions of space and place, which again has a Western cultural birth in Ancient Greek thought, directs the reading through to the contemporary issues of identity crisis, sense of place and the displacement that is growing momentum. The literature of place connection has also taken a journey through the philosophies of phenomologists Husserl and Merleau-Ponty who brought the idea of place back to earth. The contemporary philosopher and humanistic geographer Edward Casey and Y-Fu Tuan are amongst the many scholars who have instigated current dialogues of place and our relationship to it.

The literature opened up a simultaneous rich line of enquiry testing the extent of the preconditions of perception, that is, to what extent does the personal and often unrecognized or examined epistemological framework of the artist - the preconditioning - drive, frame, shape or limit the perception of local place and the ultimate art product? To what extent might the artist bring an objective understanding to a subjective art practice? The deliberate adoption of an alien filter - the scientific - through which to conduct this study of space and place meant that observation of the effect of the preconditioning and the signature that this new yet well defined paradigm might identify within the consequent art production became possible. Indeed, by appropriating the eye of the individual artist/traveller to see local place anew and aided by the interpretive tools of science - methodologies and analytical instrumentation - this individual experiment was undertaken in an effort not only to re-ground an arts practice but also to place the peripatetic individual in the context of location. It is within the juxtaposition of these two approaches that this research is conducted. As place offers a unique or characterizable collection or layering of magnitudes, patterns and sensitivities which can be analyzed formally, scientifically, mathematically or intuitively, aesthetically, personal placement and the patterns of place are thus the core subjects of this enquiry.

In investigating the patterns and forms of the local littoral zones and identifying what is particular to these places within the Townsville region, place is encompassed, not merely as a positioning in space, but as personal, as reason, and as nucleus. Where place is designed to shape artistic output, it becomes the personal, the reason and director of the outcome; places of memory become the genius loci of individual being. Places of pattern, form, colour, rhythm and memory thus become the genius loci of the artist. Hence the process of collection and data analysis of this research was developed into a creative document through the presentation of a body of art work in a formal public exhibition and research documentation.

This thesis recounts the journey of a local person renewing a contact with local place through the conscious appl[i]cation of a deliberatively objective methodology alongside the subjectively responsive one of the artist. Through this experimental journey equipped with the filter of the scientific paradigm, a heightened consciousness of each site's unique character was gained. Thereby, developing a dialogue with place, where subject, object, pattern, rhythm and form - the visible, the invisible and generally unnoticed - lead to a construction of place, which in tum established an informed connection and thus, addressed my personal aspatiality. The resultant journey documents the data collected, the idiosyncratic artistic response and their coalescence which elicit directions for future research, through the promotion of contact with local natural places and the application of determining filters.

Item ID: 35109
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: artist; arts; forms; Geoffrey Bay; human connections; human perceptions; intertidal zones; littoral zones; local natural places; location; nature; patterns; place; Point Pallarenda; Ross River; Rowes Bay; Saunders Beach; sciences; shore; shoreline; space; spatiality; Townsville
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2016 01:37
FoR Codes: 19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1905 Visual Arts and Crafts > 190504 Performance and Installation Art @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950104 The Creative Arts (incl. Graphics and Craft) @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing @ 50%
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