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  • Worn. Footwear, attachment and affective experience.

Sampson, Ellen, 2016, Thesis, Worn. Footwear, attachment and affective experience. PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This research by practice explores our relationship with and attachment to shoes. Focusing upon the shoe as an everyday object, and on the embodied experience of wearing, it examines how through touch and use we become entangled with the things we wear. Drawing on anthropological and psychoanalytic perspectives on attachment, affect and the self, it asks: How can the act of wearing create attachment between the wearer and the worn? What is our relationship with the used and empty shoe – the shoe without the body, the shoe no longer worn? It suggests that our particular relationship to footwear is located in our intimate and tactile relationship to it; that touch and duration of wear create attachment. This research suggests that through use and wear shoes become, not only a record of the wearer’s lived experience, but also an extended part of them - a distributed aspect of the self. That the affective power of the worn shoe is a result of this intermingling, the cleaving of garment and self.
Despite a growing body of research on footwear, the worn and the used shoe is absent from much of fashion research. The shoe tends to be interpreted as a symbolic, metaphorical, or imaginary artefact; its material qualities and the embodied experience of wearing the shoe are seldom referred to. This research seeks to place the artefact, the shoe, at its centre. Through an iterative process of making, wear, and observation, it aims to make apparent the intimacies of our relationship with shoes. Rather than record the narratives which we apply to footwear, it seeks to highlight the material traces of these relationships: to present the ways they are embodied within the artefacts themselves.
This research is research through practice, into the nature of our relationships with shoes, through making artefacts and images (installation, film and photographs). It is material culture research enacted through the production of artefacts. It situates itself as art practice; the shoes produced are not footwear in a conventional sense but instead are objects designed to amplify and make explicit their role as records of gesture and experience. These empty shoes are records of an absent performance, of gestures which are lost to the viewer, so that only their traces, the marks upon the shoe, remain.
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Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W230 Clothing/Fashion Design
School or Centre: School of Material
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2016 15:06
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2016 15:06
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1811

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