My Research Paper – Refining the Question

I forgot to post this, so apologies for this blog being out of sequence.

In my last blog I shortlisted three possible topics for my research paper and described the context for them. What I have to do next is decide on one and phrase it appropriately. Easier said than done. But I have made progress.

A WhatsApp discussion with Sharon whittled my shortlist down to two. Researching the artistic contribution of the  life model risked straying into talking about my practice or appearing to do so. Consequently, during the group on-line tutorial with Gareth Polmeer later that afternoon (June 7th) I pitched in with a choice between my last two:

Digital to physical – made to last: An examination of the unintended consequence of built in obsolescence in purely digital art. Will only physical artworks survive intact over the passage of time?

Breaking the mold: Research into new digital approaches for casting bronze and aluminium sculptures of the life model.

My topics triggered a lot of positive discussion, which encouraged me to continue with them. A particularly helpful comment came from Gareth which may well help me cover both in the same research paper: “Maybe a way to combine questions is to incorporate case studies of practices from 1 into the problems raised by 2. The material legacy of digital media is, of course, highly unknown, whereas the longevity of bronzes, marble and even paper (and film) are historically proven to last.”

Coincidentally, a blog discussion the following day between three of my MA second year student colleagues was very apposite. Jack posted an article in our FineArtDigital blog “Best Practices for the Conservation of Media Art”, which seemed very heavy duty in post production effort, and prompted a comment by Trystan “Just use stones mate. Foolproof.” Jack’s riposte was that “Erosion will get you in the end mate”. Brit chipped in “Erosion gets us all in the end my friend”. Perhaps a good opening for my Research Paper?!

The tutorial also provided several ideas to possibly cover:

David commented, quoting from my research area description, “to operate in the distant future” and “digitally functioning legacy’ are interesting… obsolescence renders technology dead far too quickly … how to preserve for future generations? Digital curation?

Gareth thought there was a link between my research question and Patrick’s “The 3D object and the shadow aspect” referring to a book by Baxandall “as he looks at the question of shadows through the lens of contemporary understandings of vision science, i.e. the question of reviewing art history through the present, as such”. This idea prompted considerable discussion.

Gareth continued “The shadow, and the idea of the body scan interrelate through the question of presence and absence. What’s interesting about the relation of 3D scanning to sculpture is that the ‘index’ or ‘cast’ used to make the object is abstracted into virtual space” and later “Perceiving a shadow is ‘seeing’ absence”and “The Cubitt book deals with light and shadow in interesting ways’.

Katerina thought that my two options were interesting but “I think that maybe its better not to focus on the material (bronze and aluminium), it seems more like something you discover through your practice.” This seemed to contradict Gareth’s viewpoint. I replied “That’s what Jonathan thought but I won’t discover it in practice if I don’t discover what is possible first”.

Katerina liked the idea of “inverting” the look into the shadow which “made her think of dualism and the mental/physical opposition” while David said “sometimes negative space is more important than the figure … the presence/absence … one can’t exist without the other”. Continuing later “I’ve read an article concerning the absence of the body in contemporary artistic creation, maybe there are some parallels there too (body/flesh as a means of perception towards the ‘electronic/contemporary art that moves away from that ..or does it?”

Sharon ‘ I thought about cloning”.

Gareth referred to “Baudriallard’s simulacrum – the presence’ is the absence of any kind of original thing, or is only a copy of sorts’ and to “the German philosophical interest around this relates to being (Sein) and Nothing (Nichts). “Crowther is a good example of a writer who renders complex ideas into accessible prose”

Gareth commented to Patrick “some cross pollination with Heidegger,re hyperskins …insights of Edmund Husserl, real objects and sensual objects. Real objects are objects objects that withdraw from all experience, whereas sensual objects are those that exist only in experience.”

This discussion prompted Gareth to ask me “do you think that idea of presence/absence has any relevance to the casting process and questions involved in the digital body scan?”. I agreed “the original object goes through several processes of inversion, conversion, re-emergence etc on the way to the finished article.”

Summarising, Gareth thought that it provided a good angle for me to focus my paper “as it gives some good ways to compare historical and contemporary methods”. I will investigate  further but as yet I remain to be convinced that it is a main focus, but it is an interesting topic that deserves inclusion.

Sharon’s (I am interested in stories and codes which are historical and contextual}.

The context for my Research Question

MA Project Proposal – How technological innovation can provide new opportunities for the artistic presentation of the life model

Making to date – Digital to Physical: Primarily of a female life model – experimentation with full body 3D scanning, laser cutting, 3D digital sculpting, high quality digital printing on canvas, 3D laser sintering (3D printing), video & voice recording/editing, Arduino with sensors and conductive materials, bronze casting, and combining the previous elements (for finished artworks see Addendum)

Future making – Entirely Digital: For the human form – projection mapping, 3D digital sculpting/painting, and 3D holographic (Peppers Ghost) display/projection

Research Question – Short list of three

What I am writing about, what I don’t know about it, and why I want to know about it (rationale) – Subject, enquiry, and rationale for discovery

Is the life model as much an artistic contributor to the artwork as the artist?

I am researching the views of artists, the artists’ muse and informed observers because of my interest in giving the model a voice and to understand the artistic contribution of the life model in figurative art

Digital to physical – made to last: An examination of the unintended consequence of built in obsolescence in purely digital art. Will only physical artworks survive intact over the passage of time?

I am researching the practice of Alex May and Antony Gormley to compare artists whose work relies on today’s digital processes, and to use them as examples to understand whether purely digital artworks can continue to operate in the distant future and thus provide a digitally functioning legacy for generations to come

Breaking the mold: Research into new digital approaches for casting bronze and aluminium sculptures of the life model.

I am researching innovative digital technologies for making bronze and aluminium sculptures due to the current lengthy and inaccurate procedures involved in the 5000 year-old lost wax casting process. I hope to discover whether casting techniques can be substantially speeded up and improved on so that metal sculptures of the human form can be more easily made by the 3D ‘digital’ artist.

 Addendum (finished artworks)

  1. Contoured one metre full body sculpture of a nude woman in 244 pieces of MDF
  2. ‘Unrequited Love’ – A large touch narrative head and shoulders painting of a woman
  3. ‘Giving the Model a Voice’ – A touch narrative 2.25 x 1.0 metre triptych digitally printed on canvas of a morphed nude woman from an enhanced 3D scan
  4. 3D printed hollow bust of a nude woman (25 cm tall) with touch narratives
  5. 3D printed hollow full body sculpture of a nude woman (70 cm tall) in ‘Rodin style’ with touch narratives
  6. Bronze hollow bust of a nude woman as an ‘industrial style’ artefact recovered from the sea
  7. ‘Metamorphosis’ – submission to Lumen Prize 2016 of the above full body sculpture and bronze (submerged in salt water) mounted on transparent acrylic plinths with touch narratives made by the model





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