When I began my research towards a potential topic of my then non-existent dissertation, I knew what I wanted to really research but I just didn’t know what to where to start and how to turn it into a dissertation.
After attending dissertation sessions with Andy Broadey (then my lecturer), I found out my interest for installation work and projections which eventually helped me visualise my love for James Turrell’s work and the Light and Space artists. I just didn’t know how to elaborate more on these topics and over all how was I going to write a successful dissertation?
What I found very helpful, were the sessions with Andy and his lectures on ‘Institutional Critique’ which at the time made nonsense to me but yet there was something in those lecturers that caught my eye. These sessions inspired me to write an essay about Relational Aesthetics and the critical review around it explored by Nicolas Bourriaud.
As the time moved on, I also moved away from the initial interest in Relational aesthetics. This began as I was taking part in ‘Art and Conscious of Mind’ field module which were really intense lectures with main topics of how our brain perceives different environments, how we see formless and our mind makes it up, etc. A lot of physical and seeing phenomena were discussed in this module and I found myself hooked on it.
My main interest began with the idea of a void and not being able to see the horizontal line in particular art works, and the manipulation of spaces that would have an impact on how we would perceive them. I was examining the works of James Turrell, Robert Irwin, Yves Klein, examining what does it mean to be in a space and how could a manipulated space make me feel.
After speaking with Andy and trying to come up with a title for my dissertation, I was please as it didn’t turn out to be as hard as I thought it would turn out to be. That’s when I began my dissertation titled, ‘Light and space as values of Minimalism and Post-Minimalism’. An exciting start to my dissertation.
I began doing research and concentrating on Minimalism and its values for space and light, and I found some inspiring pieces of art work and pieces of writing. Particularly enjoyed Michael Asher’s Situation Aesthetic by Kirsi Peltomaki and the interventions made by him in the art institutions,
But as I was just getting into my research and feeling confident about it, I had to leave all the library resources and go on an Erasmus to Venice. During the time I was in Venice I was feeling low and stressed about my further research on my dissertation. I definitely felt disadvantaged and scared as the resources in Venice weren’t sufficient enough and the dissertation draft had to be turned in very soon.
During the time in Venice I also had an opportunity to travel to Belgium and visit the Ghent Design Museum which was a crucial point of my research. This time I could immerse myself into the works and ideas that I have been researching for the past couple of months. Seeing the work of Carlos Cruz Diez ‘Chromosaturation’ 1965 was very inspiring and I definitely felt the urge of my research coming together with my practical work. I wanted to create spaces that would alter the vison and make visitors feel themselves feeling in a particular way. I was interested in art that was made for the audience.
So at that point I was researching the writings of Claire Bishop and the critical writing about Minimalism and Space and Light art, by Clement Greenberg and Michael Fried. I decided that I wanted to create my own work in order to support my arguments about the values of light and space, and I found them at times challenging to articulate in order for everything to make sense.
Through the summer of 2015 I kept researching ideas of seeing and I was getting caught up in scientific terms for how our brain sees and how it evaluates what is in front of you, which I found extremely relevant to my dissertation and I have definitely learned a lot about things that I thought I would never learn about. I would find myself reviewing the world around me in terms of space and light and imagine how would Michael Asher or James Turrell perceive the space I’m in, now.
After getting back into third year I was surprised and quite worried as I found out that Andy Broadey would not be my dissertation lecturer this year. I was put into a group that was led by Mahnaz Shah. I didn’t know what to expect and to be honest I was quite reluctant on whether someone can help me with a topic that I had reviewed with my previous lecturer. I was so wrong! Mahnaz was exceptional in terms of making me realise what I had to be doing in order to create a great piece of writing. She has really helped me to understand the language of the dissertation that I did not understand before. So I moved away from my research and began writing my dissertation in a manner that was critical, analytical and most of all engaging.
Tutorials with Mahnaz were always helpful even when I felt like I was letting myself down or wasn’t believing in myself anymore, she would always find strength in me.
I can’t argue that I didn’t find my dissertation hard and that I had to get over so many difficulties when research or writing it, but I am so pleased to have engaged so deeply in a topic that still interests me, even after having finished my dissertation. Not only did I gain more knowledge, I also learned how to be time sufficient and how to work under pressure.
It was a stressful journey, a journey that opened so many doors to ideas and critical thinking. I am proud I got to the end but at the same time I feel sad that it has came to an end so rapidly.
Perhaps I can continue expanding my field of knowledge and arguments in my further academic learning as a Post graduate in the field of light and space.
Images of my work towards my dissertation:
Fig.1 Untitled acrylic rods and LED light 2016
Fig.2 Untitled vertical (still) 2016
Fig.3 Untitled vertical (still) 2016
Fig.4 Untitled square (still) 2016