Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Visual Arts

Supervisor

Prof. Patrick Mahon

Abstract

Sculpture is an equivocal medium, at once occupying the abstract space of representation and the real space of the viewer. This dual nature often produces an uncanny or monstrous experience for the viewer who feels drawn into the space of the work, and who is met by its disruptive, but evasive presence. This monstrous condition is revealed in modem and contemporary sculptural practices that have sought to complicate the dynamics of the relationship that sculpture has had with the furniture used in its production and display. Manipulations of the pedestal and the workbench, in various degrees of integration with the work, demonstrate (a word connected to revealing and monstrosity) this monstrous condition by providing both a transition and a barrier at the borders of meaning.

In fulfillment of the Project-Based Stream of the PhD in Art and Visual Culture, the material in this thesis consists of three parts. The first part is a written thesis that utilizes an image from the 1931 film version of Frankenstein as a model for looking at sculptural practices and the furniture of its production and display. The second is a record of my studio research, which is based in sculpture and is directly engaged in the questions described here. Workbench forms used to produce sculptural artifacts are then used as ‘pedestals’ in the context of an exhibition. This work culminates in an exhibition at the McIntosh Gallery, in London Ontario. The third part documents Parker Branch, an ongoing collaborative curatorial project of which I am a part. The project consists of a small museum space that mounts a rotating exhibition program of found objects, with an emphasis on lateral diversions in meaning engendered by manipulations of traditional taxonomic systems. What is shared among these projects is an engagement with material artifacts and the mechanisms by which they are displayed. Each project explores the ways in which those mechanisms shape the production of meaning through various corruptions in linear development.

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