Removing the Frame - The advancement of projection and the re-establishing of auratic art in the moving image

This PhD will investigate and employ the techniques and technologies of Projection Art, in engagement with the existing discipline of Video Art, in order to explore transcendent and spiritual experience.

In a time where Video Art is reproducible across varying formats, transferred without loss through the immateriality of the internet, and its established forms of practice are being commodified and safeguarded by galleries, Projection Art techniques, such as video mapping, are a welcome advancement of the moving image in art. The processes are often highly site-specific, with much of the work conducted in situ. Projection Art often combines the plasticity of sculptural or architectural forms with the ephemerality of light installation, often in conjunction with soundscapes. It is often temporarily installed with no commercial or collectable value akin to the avant-garde practices of conceptualism, but unlike these practices, the focus remains on the art object, not on the processes of the art production. . It is because of these qualities that I think it can re-establish what Walter Benjamin coined the "aura" of art, a reverence of the "here and now" and "distance-no-matter-how-near” in the age of digital media.

While more traditional Video Art practices are viewed within a frame, flat, bound by the conventions of the moving image and easily reproduced, Projection Art creates an experience that is unique and individual to its installation. It can still inspire an experience of immersion that the framed video alone cannot. This artistic research will employ these immersive qualities to explore the phenomena of transcendent and spiritual experience.

As an artist, I am interested in creating works which attempt to appeal to the transcendental sensibilities of their audience, prompting them to reflect upon experiences that occur at the margins of our lives in society. Artists – of the past, such as Wassily Kandinsky, and of the present, such as Bill Viola – have been concerned with creating art which elicits, as Kandinsky put it ‘emotion beyond words’, and expressing the spirituality of humanity. My aim is neither to create art which examines religion, nor which expresses spirituality, but to engage with transcendental and spiritual experience in a way which highlights the commonalities between the viewpoints of the secular and the sacred, without reducing one to the other. I intend to create work which, when placed within sacred spaces like churches, complements and affirms their intended atmosphere. I will also create, in secular spaces such as galleries, installations which themselves constitute spaces of secular or sacred spirituality or religiosity.

Projection Art has a history rooted within the phantasmagoria, perspective illusion and video sculpture (especially those of Tony Oursler) but remains relatively under-critiqued and unexplored within the Arts. Artists such as Joanie Lemercier, Roberto Fazio and Elliott Woods, who fill an odd remit between artist, designer and programmer, lead the field. Using a practice-led approach I aim to advance my study and experimentation with the software, technology, techniques and theory behind Projection Art, whilst exploring the idea of immersive transcendent and spiritual experiences.

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