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  • Strange phantoms and fictitious dreamlands: art, life and me

Mu, Ruidi, 2019, Thesis, Strange phantoms and fictitious dreamlands: art, life and me PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

I have always felt that you should never make a decision following a lunchtime
nap. There is something about this space and time, a kind of momentary
discordance with the world, that seems particular to this break in the
day. It is difficult to define, yet quite distinct to the moment of waking up in
the morning. The lunchtime nap is a kind of disruption to consciousness,
to daily life, and in its wake the world can appear quite strange: dreamlife
and real life becoming confusingly intertwined in the imagination. A fictitious
dreamland that infects the remainder of the day.
Within my research, photography often becomes a starting point for triggered
imagination. While the purpose of this project is not to define the
imagination, a key concern of my PhD is focused on exploring and investigating
whether an imaginary action could be identified as a Happening,
and through doing so, to reimagine the space of the Happening through the
lens of photography. Like the moment of photography, a Happening can
never be repeated. Strange Phantoms and Fictitious Dreamlands offers
a consideration of the conjunction between photography and Happenings
as a means to explore the intersections between art, life, and identity. An
understanding of performativity infuses this practice-led research. What
does it mean to perform the identity of an artist? What does it mean to
perform the identity of oneself? This study is also about gaps, and about
things which happen in between things. These gaps occur between history
and representation, between images and interpretation, between the
artist and the viewer.
My photographic and installation based practice has driven this study,
drawing on everyday moments and continuously questioning the relationship
between art and life, often using absurdist means. Artworks and exhibitions made during the course of this research project become the foundations for the chapters in the thesis. Chapter One begins with a
focus on the relationship between photography, crime scenes and the unrepeatable
moment, offering a reimagining of the Happening within a contemporary
context and considering works by Weegee and Mac Adams.
The second chapter of the thesis continues the study of the intersections
between art and life, extending this to a focus on how art can influence
the world and others, in unexpected ways. This writing tells the story of a
journey that began as a personal expedition, one which resulted in a discovery
that was reported in news publications in both China and the UK.
This leads into the third and final chapter of the thesis, which continues
my investigation into ideas of the Happening, with a focus on news publications
and how these reflect and potentially distort events from everyday
life. The writing of the thesis forms a key part of my practice. A storytelling
narrative voice is employed throughout the chapters, in order to perform
– through the action of writing – the event of the Happening, and the subjective
experience that occurs through a process of reflection.
Strange Phantoms and Fictitious Dreamlands brings together a study of
Happenings, photography, narrative and everyday life, in order to offer a
new contribution to practice-led research into subjectivity, and artworks
which interrogate the borders between art and life.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art > W190 Fine Art not elsewhere classified
Creative Arts and Design > W600 Cinematics and Photography > W640 Photography
Creative Arts and Design > W800 Imaginative Writing
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2019 11:23
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2019 11:23
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/3952

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