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  • Glass and place: using properties of the one to reflect (on) qualities of the other: an effort of attention

Humphrey, Charlotte, 2018, Thesis, Glass and place: using properties of the one to reflect (on) qualities of the other: an effort of attention PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

Everything that happens takes place somewhere, in a particular physical or cultural space. The character of a place is constituted, its distinctive timbre generated, by the constellations of events occurring in it and how those blend, interweave and play out over time. Such textural qualities infuse and inform our experience of places, they shape our ‘knowing’ at a visceral level that goes unnoticed in our ordinary lives. Our conscious awareness of the places and spaces we visit and inhabit is filtered by our interests, honed through habit, marshalled and constrained by conventional perceptions of what matters. The contingent qualities of places beyond the purposes they serve for us are rarely considered and harder to attend to. But if we want to appreciate the world in its own right, not just in ours, finding ways to do so seems worthwhile.

Artists adopt a variety of strategies to penetrate beyond the more obvious features of place. Some seek estrangement through the systematic application of arbitrary rules, others through strenuous efforts of will. I use ways of looking and thinking that are grounded in my experience of training as a glassmaker and developed using photography and video. My approach employs a broadly defined ‘glass sensibility’ that encompasses both the physical abilities of glass to mediate visual perception and their metaphorical correlates as shapers of ideas.

My mode of enquiry is the essay, a flexible and open-­‐ended form of reflexive investigation that is highly attentive and responsive to its subject matter, and follows where that leads. But unlike other essayists who pursue their trains of thought in lines of words, my attempts at understanding are more visual. I explore my chosen places -­‐ a bus, a train, a road junction, a kitchen, a forest, a park, a desert -­‐ by spending periods of time in them doing whatever being there generally involves whilst also noticing how things happen and taking photographs. What I’m looking out for are telling facets, small examples of conjunctions of events which I can somehow ‘cut and polish’ at the critical angle that aids transparency, letting light in on the intrinsic character of the place and making it sparkle. The substantive outcomes of these essays are new awarenesses that bypass language; but each is accompanied and supported in the thesis by a textual account of how it came about.

The contributions made by this thesis are three-­‐fold: It expands the repertoire of strategies for appreciating place, develops a novel understanding of how glass-­‐based thinking may inform processes of exploration and offers a new, more literal, version of essayistic reflection.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W700 Crafts > W770 Glass Crafts
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2018 12:29
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2018 15:49
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/3481

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