Dr Lucy Livingstone – 2014
Northumbria University, Fine Art Department
“Re-imagining Space in the 21st Century Using Visual Art Strategies.”
Situated on the interstice of fine art practice and theoretical enquiry, this practice-led PhD proposes a radical multi-layered methodology for investigating space. Doreen Massey’s (2005) conception of space as a ‘multiplicity of trajectories’ informs the research. Drawing on concepts of spatial ideology proposed by Goonewardena (2005, 2008), Masco (2004, 2006) and Olwig (1996, 2009) the research responds to Gillian Rose’s (1978) call to make ideology ‘mediate’ and Althusser’s (1971) assertion that ideology needs to be interpreted to be resisted.
Walking was a primary research tool within the project, used to enter terra incognita, akin to the surrealist’s deambulations, getting lost (Solnit 2006) and entering the labyrinth (Ingold 2013).
The project responded to three geographical locations: Teesside in the North East of England, the east end of the city of Glasgow, and the small casino town of Wendover on the Utah/Nevada border. In each location photographic documentation made on deambulations formed the starting point for archival research, which then provided material to create performance interventions, lens-based art works and multimedia installations. Choreography: of objects, of audience and of body, was a common theme in the works, and created an
opportunity to construct new spatial narratives in response to sites.
The project examined how ideology manipulates us to experience a landscape as a ‘smooth surface, a mute representation’ (Mitchell, 2000). The research explored the possibility within visual arts practice to seek out, test and question pervasive spatial narratives, thus mobilizing frame-breaking strategies that create new spatial cartographies which both resists spatial ideology and re-imagines landscapes. The research generated a new perspective from which to consider our contemporary experience of space.