Mapping my Thesis

As outlined in my previous blog post, I plan to resolve my current research project by writing a short, illustrated thesis or manifesto that sums up what I have been working on. In this post I will begin mapping  out the key ideas, with a view toward generating a suitable structure or format for my thesis.

  • The main theme of my research has been the value of “enabling constraints” to art practice, and I have been particularly focused on the constraints that arise from the conditions of particular “work sites”.
  • It is my view that an art practice that effectively leverages the “enabling constraints” of the worksite constitutes a form of “collaboration” between the artist and their environment.
  • This is because leveraging constraint requires a sensitivity to – and acceptance of – the conditions of one’s environment; a way of working “within ones means” that emerges as a dialogue with the work site.
  • In this way all art work is – to some degree – “site-specific”, in that it is a specific collaboration between the artist and the environment / conditions within which the work was made.
  • By understanding the “work site” as a dormant or emergent “collaborator”, we can reframe the status of the studio/workspace from an “incidental” to an “integral” aspect of art practice.
  • It follows that the “constraints” of the environment become not obstacles to the artist but rather “integral” aspects of their work; the constraints are what “enable” the artist to make work in the first place. Therefore, an awareness of and sensitivity to the constraints of one’s working environment is a key aspect of artistic practice.
  • Just as we no longer see art works as the product of a “lone genius”, we should now consider the possibility that art work is no longer the product of solely human endeavors; rather, art might be the product of a dialogue between multiple human and non-human actors, each defined by their own specific [enabling] constraints.

The last point on “human and non-human actors” might sound like a little bit of a stretch, however this is what I think is inferred by the the argument, and it is interesting to consider the idea as part of the overall thesis.

At this stage I am not sure how much more detail is really necessary to argue my point. Perhaps it would be enough just to develop the above into a more accessible and clear argument – even just a couple of hundred words – and work more on the format and means of presentation / distribution?

This would make the “thesis” more of a “proposal” or “thought experiment” that is articulated not by means of an academic paper, but through some kind of “practice-based” outcome – that is, presented as an artistic product.

This “artistic product” could be as simple as a drawing or painting, a poster, a short leaflet or booklet, a map or collage, a video or sound piece, an illustration or diagram, or some combination.

Along with developing the text content, I think the next priority for me is to decide on and/or experiment with a format (or formats) which I can use to better articulate these ideas.

One thought on “Mapping my Thesis”

  1. Strikes me that the manifesto could be a self-published book that contains both the core argument (‘manifesto’) and examples of your own work / work of artists in the project that aid understanding of what you’re arguing. If you present it this way, it will act as an = to a catalogue for the project. Your writing becomes a text that runs in sync with the works illustrated, and the works (at least the ones you make) respond to your writing. That will make the book+your writing in it a site with its own enabling constraints!

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