The butterfly pin: the phenomenon of object-based collecting in Australian contemporary artistic practice

Joyce, Renée Elizabeth (2017) The butterfly pin: the phenomenon of object-based collecting in Australian contemporary artistic practice. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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As a species of hunter and gatherer, we as humans are driven to collect things that we can use to sustain our lives, but once the intrinsic need of this process is met, animals of all sorts will collect objects for other purposes. To the contemporary artist, this innate sense of object envy or the desire to collect has become a driving force behind much contemporary art practice and is firmly posited in art theory. Patterns are emerging within collecting processes that have become templates for unique styles of representation, be they conceptual or practical. This research probes beneath the surface of artistic practice in relation to collected object inclusive artistic practice in the search for a model to explain the phenomena which has become more prevalent over the past century.

The historical discourse of object collecting, classification and display from the Medieval Reliquary, cabinets of curiosities, early museums and the modern and contemporary museological frameworks of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries forms the basis of this research. It is hypothesized that this historic continuum of collection processes has generated culturally and socially influenced object interaction behaviours that underpin the manner in which humans collect, classify and display objects. These historically informed behaviours have, over the span of history, resulted in a set of codified practices of collecting, classification and display. These practices, which have been repeated over the course of object collecting history, appear to have been adapted and incorporated into contemporary visual arts practice in those instances where artists engage with collected objects.

To investigate the resonances of characteristic practices of historic collection processes that can be observed in contemporary collected object inclusive artistic practice, a series of researcher generated theoretic paradigms titled the Butterfly Pin Constructs, has been developed. The Butterfly Pin Constructs consist of five individual constructs that represent key elements of collecting, classification and display which have persisted and evolved since the Medieval period. These theoretic representations provide a platform upon which to discuss collected object inclusive artistic practice and the impact of the legacy of collection processes upon this contemporary phenomenon.

This research utilises interview data from four Australian sample artists and the visual analysis of a number of their works of art to interrogate the framework of the Butterfly Pin Constructs and the role they may fulfil within the creative process. The Butterfly Pin Constructs, as embodiments of key characteristics of historic collection processes, are the central framework upon which an understanding of the phenomena of collected object inclusive practice can be positioned. As such, the interview responses and works of art of the late Tom Risley, Donna Marcus, Patrick Hall and Glen Skien, each of whom engage in collected object inclusive artistic practice, offer a sample set of this artistic phenomenon upon which to assess the validity of this theoretic model as offering an alternate paradigm to examine collected object inclusive artistic practice.

Item ID: 53131
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: art theory, Australian artists, Butterfly Pin Constructs, classification, collecting, collection, display, objects, relics
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2018 01:37
FoR Codes: 19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1901 Art Theory and Criticism > 190103 Art Theory @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing @ 100%
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