• Gypsy Visuality: Alfred Gell's art nexus and its potential for artists

Baker, Daniel, 2011, Thesis, Gypsy Visuality: Alfred Gell's art nexus and its potential for artists PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

The thesis formulates a theory of Gypsy visuality based on the identification of key elements within Gypsy visual arts, crafts and décor. This is achieved through the analysis of Romany artefacts using the combined theories of anthropologist Alfred Gell (1945-1997) and philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914). The research highlights the social significance of Gypsy visual culture and argues its potential impact upon Romany/non-Romany social relations.

Findings in relation to Gell’s theory of the Art Nexus:
Gell’s theory of the Art Nexus has limited potential for application in its current form due to the lack of a method with which to analyse artefacts themselves. The links between Gell’s theory of the Art Nexus and Peirce’s Semeiotic theory have been strengthened during this research. Combining Gell’s theory with elements from Peirce’s Semeiotic theory increases the potential application of both methods by offering both social and semeiotic interpretations of the artefact. This combined method generates findings that offer a more precise account of the distribution of social agency via the artefact than Gell’s original theory allows. A combined Gellian and Peircean method of analysing artefacts makes Gell’s notion of agency more widely available for application by artists.

Implications in relation to Gypsy visuality:
By using a combined Gellian and Peircean analysis I have established some significant recurrent elements that constitute Gypsy visuality for the first time. These elements include; flashiness, allure, enchantment, entrapment, ornament, diversion, discordance, contingency, functionality, performance, community, family, home, traditional skills, wildlife, countryside and gender. The constituent elements of Gypsy visuality both reflect and inform Gypsy culture. This new understanding of Gypsy visuality offers a new understanding of the social relations that surround Gypsy culture. Gypsy visuality both reflects and informs the behaviour of Gypsy communities and in so doing articulates a set of relations that characterise Gypsy social agency.

Implications in relation to art practice:
Using painting as method to research Gypsy visuality in its constituent elements has generated new interpretations of Gypsy visuality. These are; Western art practices, glamour, interruption, disorientation and reflection. These new interpretations allow new access to the meanings inherent in Gypsy visuality and therefore new access to the meanings inherent in Gypsy culture.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art > W120 Painting
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Copyright Holders: Daniel Baker
Funders: Arts & Humanities Research Council
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2011 16:46
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2018 15:43
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/431
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