Space-time and creation in arts: three practice-led experiments.

Abstract: This study addresses site-specific sculptural practice and examines the tensions arising from the interactive relations between site and the artworks that exist within it. It applies the concept of 'anthropophagy' to re-signify traditional models of representation in order to re-organize them into new contexts through practice-led research into site-specificity. Anthropophagy, a metaphorical vision of the Brazilian indigenous people, utilises cannibalistic customs "in order to legitimate their critical, selective and metabolising appropriation of European artistic tendencies" (Mosqueira 2010: 12). The use of this concept in this thesis arises from the idea of simultaneously belonging to two geographically separated cultural universes: one individual (in my case, Brazilian) and another related to the centralised European/US cultural model of influence that dominates the art world. The differences and intersections between these two universes provide a rich field for practice-led research into how artistic creation is affected by attitudes to space and time. In order to explore this, the thesis is divided into four chapters. The first develops a theoretical framework dealing with concepts of space and time and demonstrates how anthropophagy draws these concepts together. The next chapter examines walking in the UK as an art practice to expand the understanding of site-specific practice through the artworks of Richard Long and Hamish Fulton. The third chapter focuses on work, site and location in order to examine how anthropophagy can re-signify the idea of walking as related in Chapter two. The final chapter analyses site-specificity, drawing on my own practice-led research explored through three art projects implemented in Brazil and England. These projects develop ways to negotiate the complex relationship between art, place and temporal contexts, re-inscribing events within specific sites over time.

To build a methodology for the research, I have developed three different projects and situations testing the spatial-temporal contexts of site. By using site-specific art practice I shape my arguments upon a creative practice ruled by concepts, materials and techniques. In my practice I have delineated some creative responses to the transformations of the contemporary world, weaving reflections between work/site/body as well as on my own perception regarding current 'temporalities'. The theoretical frameworks that inform this study range from postmodernism to globalisation theories in order to draw together work, site and location under the overarching concept of anthropophagy.

Project 3

Exhibition at Estacao Cabo Branco, Cincia, Cultura e Artes, Brazil.

For this exhibition I decided to experiment with large-scale projections aiming to encourage viewers to participate more. As the focus of my videos is on the feet, these images appear magnified to the point of involving the viewer in my action. My idea was not simply to throw images into the space, but rather something that would encourage the viewer to become immersed in the work, by somehow inviting him/her for a walk.

On entering the gallery, a 20 m x 3 m projection was observed on the back wall. This image spread across the back wall, round the corner and over onto the side wall. I used three projectors and a process to enlarge the image (Matrox), which unfolded into two segments. Beside this was another projected image measuring 3 m x 3 m, which was achieved with a further video, although this second image is a variation on the first. I used the same standards as the first but during editing I associated it to computer animation effects. Both were created with the aim of being presented simultaneously in any space, and except for minor variations, complement one another. Sometime later, I projected another video with images that were recorded within the exhibition space. My concern with these images was to make them as close to reality as possible, so that people realized they had been included in the space. My proposal included the creation of videos in the exhibition space itself. After this, I introduced a shelf with five 7" digital photo frames.

The first and fourth reproduced moving images (videos) and the second, third and fifth presented stills from the same video, varying only in the form in which they were presented, which was at 3 second intervals. The sixth piece was also a 7" monitor, which was part of a home security system. Interaction at a low resolution brings about some very interesting visual effects. Besides this, the corresponding cameras were operationalized in Wi-Fi. The image becomes extremely attractive since it is distributed into fractions of seconds after the action has been recorded, which proved quite provocative, as people would try to interact in real time, and all movements were delayed and appeared as though in slow motion. During the editing process, the image returns to the correct speed. The cameras for this monitor were placed under the shelf. Mounting the exhibition was recorded with the same camera, and some of the team appeared in the recordings, which I turned into videos. The camera was also directed towards the feet. During the exhibition, these images were presented on one of LED TVs.


On the same main wall, I also placed a sequence of tube TVs. In all there were six TVs, one 29" on the floor. Two hanging from an aluminium support (my interest in this material is related to the reflection of the projection lights), the projectors were also on this same kind of support) and three placed one above another. These last three presented the images, which I had filmed at the front of the space, which is made up of a windowed structure and which provides an excellent view of the complex: Estacao Cabo Branco, Ciencia, Cultura e Artes, in Brazil, which is a unit with just one exhibition space. The glass was covered to darken the environment, but during the montage I recorded a number of videos and introduced them as a contrast to the blackout effect. Although this was a moving image it nonetheless gave the appearance of a photograph. However, they are videos, in which suddenly a passing car appears. At this moment, I shake the camera in order to provoke the viewer. I particularly enjoy playing with representations that stir our initial senses. People became confused as they were unsure whether it was a still or moving image. I distributed the same images on the three tube TVs (also located on the opposite side), one of which was upside down. The effect this produced was quite interesting, since it seemed to be a reflection of the image projected from above. The two upper TVs on the side presented videos in which I walk through airports, demonstrating continuous displacement and is way in which the theme of globalisation is highlighted in the exhibition context.


On the side wall, near the entrance to the gallery, I placed four 40" LED TVs. They were positioned vertically one above the other, and my intention here was to create a sculptural form. The lower TV was deliberately set off-centre. The images presented were presented in a sequence from top to bottom. At the top I presented the same video as seen on the three tube TVs, the video that showed the glass facade. Below this, I presented another video - "Secret things and Yourself" (2010). This video appears in an interminable sequence of images of a walk filmed from the front (of myself walking) which was lovingly produced for someone I met in Newcastle. The TV below presented images recorded by the security camera in real time. The four divided sections on the screen relate to the glass structure presented above, with the aim of establishing a link between the two compositions.

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Maria is currently a Professor at the Visual Arts Department, Paraiba Federal University Brazil


1984-88 - BA in Fine Arts, Brazil. Escola de Belas Artes da Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

1995-97 - Master of Fine Art in Painting. Edinburgh College of Art

2008-13 - PhD, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University

Recent Solo Exhibitions:

2013 - treze dias caminhando em 2, 3, 4, 14 de julho de 2013, Estacao das Artes, Anexo da Estacao Cabo Branco, Ciencia, Cultura e Artes, Brazil

2012 - tres dias Caminhando em 3, 4, e 5 de marco de 2012, Galeria Archidy Picado, FUnESC, Brazil