Dissertation Abstracts

November 2013

December 2014

December 2015

December 2016

Why do we keep objects ?

“Tell me the things you own and I'll tell you who you are” 
summarizes the intuition that our possessions define us as individual beings. This study looks at how and why we acquire objects for reasons other than purely functional ones. It approaches the field by analysing objects as vessels for memories before examining different types and typologies of objects, from clothes and jewellery to old objects and objects as collectors' items. The desire to possess things, oscillating between love and neurosis, appears to be based on impalpable motives linked to the imagination; an imaginary world of discovery, keepsakes, souvenirs, reconnecting with personal identity or attempting to reach towards an ideal identity.

Objects and mankind are inseparable. Without users, objects have no purpose or reason to exist and likewise people cannot fully live without objects.
 However objects also exist in their own right whether they are utilitarian or fulfill an emotional need.

The study concludes that although we each may have personal reasons that bind us to objects, generally they make us feel closer to our own selves and to others. Objects are often a means of recording past experiences and serve as a symbolic link with people who are important to us. They allow their owners to relive times past, specific locations and contexts that make us who we really are.

The present dissertation is an examination of the aesthetics of creative acts in the eyes of an artist. Initial chapters elaborate on key notions of acceleration in society, where speed and movement since the industrial revolution and in the digital world today alienate and disorientate increasing numbers of thinkers. Different types of acceleration and paces of life are analysed before looking at the consequences which include re-emergence of a melancholic syndrome, traced here through examples of artworks, in literature and philosophy. A second major section dissects creativity, analysing the parts played by intuition, intention, senses and sensibility, progressively approaching the central hypothesis that contemplation constitutes an antidote to acceleration and should be fostered not only in the artist but also in the spectator. This is followed by a final section discussing implications of such a theory on the status of works of art in society, fueled by critical analysis of recent theories in relational aesthetics.

Objects and Fetishes

A fetish may be defined as a sacred object, believed to possess magical, protective or other powers. The status and characteristics of such objects are examined in this study, particularly seeking to analyse the grey area separating ordinary and fetishistic forms and what factors might influence transference from one state to another.

Firstly, different values that physical objects may acquire are discussed, focussing on sentimental, symbolic, emotional and aesthetic aspects. These are then placed in the context of a consumerist society where manufacturers and designers deliberately engineer sentiments of appeal and pleasure in products in order to improve the loyalty of their customers.

The second half of this study analyses objects that are clearly fetishes, whether in a sacred or secular sense. They appear to bridge a gap between concrete and intangible worlds, give feelings of security or fulfill spiritual needs. Some may be treated as idols, others as expressions of power, and again these properties are examined in the light of cultural practices and in particular positing contemporary design as a prime example of fetishism.

Contemporary Visions of Sacredness

The primary purpose of this study is to analyse notions of sanctity in French contemporary society. Sacredness implies conflicting ideas of both prohibition and unification, a balance that has shifted at different times in history and in different cultures. The study aims to demonstrate that the Sacred need not necessarily be associated with the Divine since it can be found in many aspects of secular life.

Several themes and questions about everyday life are developed in three main sections. The first considers historical legacies left by religion. This heritage underlies collective memory which conserves in our minds vestiges of the tragedies and glories of our predecessors. In the second section, contemporary sacred forms are examined, identifying those that have evolved and those that have remained unchanged. The worshipped figure is shown to result from a process of idealization in our global culture. Every experience of the sacred can be shown to implicate a principle of cohesion acting as a catalyst for membership of a given group. Indeed, communal manifestation of the sacred demonstrates a human need for collective rituals. However, differences in beliefs multiply versions of sacredness, scattering and fragmenting groups that then form autonomous, isolated communities. The last section, Sacredness of life, questions the expressions and limits of sacrality invested in the human body through its various states of being alive, dying and death. Bioethical issues are used to demonstrate the extremes of how we far we sacralise our bodies, providing clear examples of sanctity that permeate our lives in subtle and sometimes dramatic forms.

Characteristics and Growth of Geek Art

The aim of this dissertation is to examine the phenomenon of Geek Art and gauge its influence on my own work.

Adorno's notion of culture as an industry provides a starting point from which to survey the growth of economic lobbies and major businesses across the sector. The emergence of Geek Art is then described and an attempt made to define its various emanations. Links with culture industries are explored in the light of progressively growing and increasingly commodified leisure time, and parallels are drawn between popular cultural phenomena and corresponding economic and social factors.

The second part of the dissertation makes a case for Geek Art and Geek Culture as emanations of Pop Art. A number of examples are given that show Geek artists as creators and their work is analysed in the context of contemporary mainstream art. Particular attention is focussed on artists who employ technological processes and approaches that reflect the rapid evolution of such tools in society at large.

Having roots in two or more cultures gives rise to a constant quest for a hybrid cultural identity, one defined by choice and not imposed by a single nation. This process of mixing cultures to form a new identity is known as creolisation and constitutes the central issue examined in the present study, specifically seen here through contemporary artistic practices including my own. Traditions, their loss, cross-fertilisation, appropriation and creation of national identity are all questioned in turn, separating strands that are frequently amalgamated. In order to clarify the field, cultural tradition is then analysed as a material that is used or misused by artists on a personal or public scale. Finally the phenomenon of creolisation is discussed, seen as a form of wandering or shifting, crossing borders forged by tradition, origins, roots and cultural identity and that can ultimately find expression or resolution in artistic creativity.

This study examines dress/body ornament according to various factors such as identity, social codes, proxemics as well as kinaesthetic and spatial interactions. It attempts to analyse the complex interplay between the three principle actors involved, i.e. the creator, the wearer and finally the viewer. Seen in this light, dress/body ornament can be considered as a means for communication or mediation between these actors, each with their own specific viewpoint which this dissertation seeks to clarify. Thus dress/body ornament is not just restricted to the body of he or she who wears it. It brings into play perception of one's own body, of others' bodies and raises issues concerning sensory perception and the perception of space. However, before any of these areas can be approached or developed, we must first make a fundamental choice, that of deciding to wear dress/body ornaments in the first place.

Boredom at Work

From birth onwards, we are taught to follow social norms, one of the most fundamental being that work is essential for survival. Consumer society conditions us into working to earn money rather than for enjoyment or fulfillment so we spend most of our lives carrying out repetitive daily tasks with little choice to do otherwise. As Nietzsche said, we work to satisfy our needs. The present study begins by defining key aspects of boredom engendered through repetition and the constraints imposed by routine work. This approach is then applied to artists who explicitly reference boredom and whose works are discussed in this study. Armed with these observations, a series of fictional scenarios are presented in which the constraints and boredom of work can be examined in different lights, even as prerequisites of creative acts.

Creolization and Culture: A Quest for Identity

Having roots in two or more cultures gives rise to a constant quest for a hybrid cultural identity, one defined by choice and not imposed by a single nation. This process of mixing cultures to form a new identity is known as creolisation and constitutes the central issue examined in the present study, specifically seen here through contemporary artistic practices including my own. Traditions, their loss, cross-fertilisation, appropriation and creation of national identity are all questioned in turn, separating strands that are frequently amalgamated. In order to clarify the field, cultural tradition is then analysed as a material that is used or misused by artists on a personal or public scale. Finally the phenomenon of creolisation is discussed, seen as a form of wandering or shifting, crossing borders forged by tradition, origins, roots and cultural identity and that can ultimately find expression or resolution in artistic creativity.
ABSTRACT IN ENGLISH Le film noir : de la dénonciation d’une société corrompue à la sublimation de l’antihéros, ses conséquences esthétiques et l’influence expressionniste.

Film noir is a cinematographic style more than a genre, that started in the United States (Hollywood) in the late 1920s. Its source lies in the uneasiness and discontent caused by the great depression, corrupt government and growth of mafia organisations, but was also influenced by American pulp novels of the time. The aim of this study is to trace how film noir transitions from denouncing corrupt society to sublimating the archetype of antihero and femme fatale with their brand of lawless morality. The study discusses how German expressionist movies from the twenties influenced the style and how in their turn aesthetic characteristics and unwritten codes of film noir infiltrated subsequent movements. Being so closely tied to a particular context (the great depression then World War II), the style had vanished by the fifties. The dissertation concludes by evoking neo-noir, a cinematographic sub-genre that appeared around the seventies and made way for a new generation of movies picking up and renewing the codes of film noir and transposing them into an updated social context.

Key words: film noir, cinema, great depression, antihero, femme fatale, contrasted aesthetics, German expressionism

Du corps voyant au corps visible

From Seeing Body to Invisible Body

Memory, particularly memory evoked through photographs which is the focus of this study, constitutes something that is missing, an emptiness that can be filled or revived by memories, an assurance that souvenirs are available and can be used to their full extent.

In the first of three sections, photography is investigated as an impartial archival record, freezing moments in time, a material support which itself is marked by the ravages of time. Then, using the example of family albums, it is considered as a selective artificial memory aid and sacralized object with a tale to tell. The second section concerns aspects of the ever evolving physical forms of photography, from exposed film and colloidal print through to digital imagery on a screen. Each step in this evolution implies an altered relationship with the viewer and modified status as a repository of memories. A particular case is made here for the increasing immateriality of the medium and its potential repercussions. A third and final section examines more closely this issue of photography as a means for recording the invisible. Different strategies have been employed to project pictures seen only in our mind's eye or what we might see if it were possible. Here reference is also made to experiments in moving images and concludes with a review of how photographs have been used to express inner emotions and phenomena that are neither tangible nor visible.

Sculptural Æsthetics in the films of Jean-Luc Godard.

Both venerated and abhorred, Jean-Luc Godard continues to stir up passions affecting fields well-beyond the confines of art cinema. Perhaps because it is the three-dimensional antithesis of flat, moving pictures, sculpture is one domain that appears to have escaped critical attention despite the film director's sculptural eye. The purpose here is to assess the importance of sculpture in Godard's films. Initial chapters lay down a double portrait of cinema and fine art during the nineteen sixties, drawing parallels between the New Wave's displacement of camera crews into natural surroundings outside the studio and the rise of arte povera, land art and new realism movements. Godard's filming style is next analysed paying particular attention to scenic construction and control of imagery. Three iconic films, Alphaville, Pierrot le Fou and Le Mépris are examined in detail with respect to their relevance to sculptural forms and approaches. The last section draws together different strands, demonstrating how Godard broke down barriers between areas of art whilst creating a new eclectic filmic genre reflecting similar tendencies in contemporary art of the period. His unfinished, utopian exhibition at the Pompidou Centre in 2006 gives a glimpse perhaps of certain key elements in his carving out of such a sculptural form of cinema.

Under Over Art

There is wild territory right in the centre of Paris. Here, urban adventurers called "cataphiles" secretly roam in the catacomb tunnels made by centuries of anonymous quarrymen. Over time, they have redecorated this unusual setting, bringing tunnels alive with their graffiti, frescoes and sculptures which constantly appear, are restored, transformed or forgotten. No sound penetrates from the surface, no echoes and virtually no light. These characteristics create an extraordinary atmosphere. Without signposts, visitors are drawn inexorably into the clutches of the labyrinthine catacombs.

The dissertation presents a cross-section of the art and culture of this subterranean world, demonstrating how a genuine sub-culture has emerged that is a reflection and vertical transposition of contemporary art above ground, replete with its own mythology and specific historical foundations. The motivations of those drawn to the catacombs are examined as well as the liberating influence the place has had on their creative activities. New exhibition spaces have sprouted in the former quarries that once supplied stones for the buildings of Paris and today a new breed of untamed artists eagerly bury their work and exhibit it to an initiated underground audience. Having evoked the type of artworks that are best suited to this milieu, a proposed hypothetical exhibition of pieces by contemporary artists enables a finer analysis of possible developments in this off-bounds socio-cultural environment.

A Step Too Far:

Contemporary Shan Shui Painting in China

Shan Shui (mountain-water) painting is one of the fundamental objects of studies to understand Chinese fine arts in ancient times; over many dynasties it was held up as a form of expression for traditional Chinese thinking. However, in the twentieth century, this model has been shaken, has suffered or failed to undergo a necessary transubstantiation to keep pace with the rapid evolution of society in China.

Transformation of one culture into another (in particular adaptation and integration into China's currently very different system) is both complex and complicated and its study requires several analytical approaches, encompassing historical and contemporary issues, various internal and external influences, cultural concerns, traditions, ideas about nature, change and mind. All these various approaches are examined here.

A brief history of Shan Shui painting is followed by a comparative study that aims to underline differences between Chinese and Western imagery, giving examples of harmonious equilibrium between the two or attempting to reunite occidental and oriental viewpoints. The presentation and examination of such issues is the first step in building a new dialectic perspective which hopefully should enable contemplation of contemporary Chinese Shan Shui style painting and at the same time engender a new critical framework for future developments.

The desire to become an integrated member of society often involves adopting a persona that either comes from one's own will or that of others. Finding your own particular persona is also an essential aim among many modern artists. Originally "persona" meant "mask" but today the term is used to describe external personality or a projected social identity. Typical personas have changed with the times, diversifying or being reinterpreted by each generation. They are reflected in the works of many artists, who transform them into opportunities for creative activities. Some artists base their work on adopting a persona as a means of publicising or amplifying the impact of their art in society, as a form of anonymity. This study is based on an analysis of representative artists who deliberately manipulate the fundamental concept of persona in making work. Their overall stances and attributes of their persona provide the key towards identifying a new language prevalent in contemporary art.

This dissertation is concerned with the long history of blurred distinctions between male and female. Outward display of such gender-crossing is one characteristic of the sexual revolution since the sixties, deliberately flouting a presumed natural order and the codes of a patriarchal society.

An attempt is made here to go beyond purely biological and medical aspects of this issue by examining phenomena that illustrate a more ambiguous definition of a man and a woman, one that admits the effeminate man and the masculine woman. Such an approach is closely related to fields of gender studies in science, philosophy and psychoanalysis.

As sexual mores change and affect our daily live, artists have responded to such trends, playing with forms and expressions of the body that reflect broad sections of the population. The work here examines some of the mechanisms that are articulated through art and gender, analysing the aesthetics of the body as an art form and looking at how physical artefacts such as jewellery, ornaments and accessories play a role in revealing or concealing gender.

The aim of this study is to identify more closely the impact of gender issues on our daily lives and how men and women assert their place in society.

Tiers Temps

The central issue of this dissertation is an examination of the relationship between ceramics and time. Ceramics have been made by man since the Palaeolithic Period and their fabrication carried out by all early civilisations around the world. Initially, this study focusses on the process of extracting and preparing clay, the careful washing and mixing required in order to ensure a stable, long-lasting finished product. The apprentice potter needs time and practice to understand the intricacies of this preparatory stage, learning to observe subtle variations in movement and texture during mixing, wedging, kneading and batting before a reliable technique can be acquired.

The dissertation then examines a range of factors that must be considered by a potter once he or she has mastered the preparation of a basic clay body. Testing and experimenting again require a time-consuming learning curve where accumulating hands-on experience is of utmost importance given the infinite variety of possible outcomes.

A final section discusses other aspects of this special relationship with time inherent to the field of ceramics, notably how this affects its status and contribution to mainstream or cutting-edge contemporary art as well as raising the question of why making ceramics is relevant in today's society.

This study begins with an initial analysis of subversive cultural movements and their relationship to the media and to the world of academically accepted art. Terms used to describe this perpetual process of aesthetic renewal through popular ideologies then provide the basis for a comparative study of how marginal cultures later become officially accepted as art historical avant-garde movements. These first steps in the study lead us to theorise transgression as an artistic leitmotif and examine certain phenomena that are practical expressions of this idea. Since the twentieth century commentators have noted that tensions between utopian aspirations and disenchantment, between matter and void often engender transgressive movements.

Observation of urban cultural and art movements provides clues concerning the emergence of contemporary subversive practices that question the position of the creative individual in the public space and their limits. Areas associated with transgression such as the underground railway are approached in this study as examples of heterotopias, phantasmagorias or non-places... Such notions are useful in understanding how this type of space and associated artistic actions related to leaving marks, may participate in a form of subversive dissent and criticism of society but also provide a space for unbridled expression, like an urban gallery. The ramifications of these multiple interactions illustrate the relationship between art, culture and media and give rise in our study to the hypothesis that such interstitial spaces of freedom and expression are important and function as a modern-day agora.

It is concluded that measuring the significance and impact of subversive practices is difficult. Instead we should borrow the term "stealth art" from Patrice Loubier who first proposed it in his book "les Commençaux". It refers to an intentional anonymity and ephemerality sought by those who leave a trace of their existence as a form of daily micro-resistance.

Interactions between art and life are a product of everyday experiences either as they happen or are remembered from the past. Having defined semantic differences between notions of the "quotidian" and "mundane", this dissertation proceeds to examine how artists portray everyday life, analysing aesthetic movements from 17th century Dutch art to fluxus performance and use of the ready-made in the 1960s. Contemporary artists have tended to focus on experience of their closest environment, on family, friends or lovers. Case studies are made of several artists who exemplify these approaches and illustrate a gradual shift towards experience of the mundane and a questioning of how to represent ordinary reality.

Emerging art practices over recent years have witnessed experiments in extending the integration of the mundane through a process of re-enchantment. The phenomenon is analysed through close study of specific artists who have contributed to this newly evolving approach, raising questions concerning relational aesthetics and self-conscious subjectivity that help clarify interpretation of such works. A conclusion draws these strands together to focus attention on the underlying aim of this movement which ultimately could be seen as the expression of an urge to elevate the mundane to a paragon of the sublime.

Damien Hirst, An Agro-cultural Industry

Damien Hirst, une industrie agroculturelle

Damien Hirst is undoubtedly one of the most emblematic figures of contemporary art yet remains an unknown entity. The man and his art continually elude any easy definition. The present study attempts to decipher the role of this art icon, and of artists in general, in our current society, by examining some of the special areas Hirst appropriates when he is making his art works. As a multimedia artist, his practice is as varied as the artistic references and broad range of common subjects that inspire him.

The study begins by analysing activities pursued by Hirst that at first sight seem distant to traditional preoccupations of the art world: from butchers' shops to agrochemicals, from Rembrandt and Dolly the first cloned mammal to the artist’s Natural History series and everyday tin cans. Maybe Damien Hirst treats the art market in the same way food-processing industries treat consumers or vice versa.

In this intuitive exploration, shaped from finding to finding, the dry-witted artist is shown to have resorted to traditional and novel spheres in order to distill knowledge about the iconoclastic world around him.

This dissertation attempts to explain the place of language in contemporary art by focussing on artists and writers who incorporate words in their productions. A rapid survey of modern art history and literature demonstrates how words and short forms have become a specific medium. The survey begins with Stéphane Mallarmé moving on through Marinetti, Dada, OuLiPo and finally covers several contemporary artists who play with words and use them as a genuine material. Central to this research is the field of poetry and the real power of inspiration that language can have. Areas examined include word games, links between text and image, relations between reality and fiction and finally aspects of storytelling. Words are present in art to make us dream and imagine stories beyond the words themselves. Language is an inexhaustible source of power, and poetry provides one solution for people to see things in a different way.

Transformation of the body through hybridization is the central theme of this study. Observations were made on the basis of an extensive examination of pictures or representations of the performing arts and in literature, addressing two main issues: Firstly the dilemma of whether we should modify our bodies in our quest for novel possibilities and secondly, at what stage in the journey from hybridized body to cyborg, the body can be said to have acquired a new life.

Greek mythology is taken as a starting point, where humans and animals coalesce in the hybrid bodies of centaurs, sirens and sphinxes, evoking a sense of fantasy and wonder. Later, artists and writers such as Leonardo da Vinci or Jules Verne began imagining future possibilities and predicting technological developments.

Different types of hybrids are analysed and a final section considers how contemporary artists and modern science have reshaped the human body.

The concept of "inhabiting" is at the heart of the present study, the term usually implying a home or a place we esteem to be "our home". Its close relationship with a sense of "being" is demonstrated here, extending the notion to show how inhabiting can be understood as finding lodging within the boundaries of one's own body. This aspect is pursued in the context of a contemporary world where questions of existential, material, or geographical survival are particularly relevant. In an inhabitable world, an inner poetic existence becomes a precarious yet vital strategy for survival. This study examines the mechanisms poetry can offer to provide us with such a refuge. The study also approaches "inhabiting" through an analysis of immobility or absence of activity, positing that it enables the construction of an empty space within our bodies where we can find total liberty of movement, license to act freely, exempt from all attachments. These phenomena are then discussed in relation to contemporary practices of writing, drawing and dance.

Following a discussion of radical forms of theoretical architecture this study analyses "invisible architectures" in the context of Utopian philosophy, particle physics, recreative drugs, music and art. These ideas are then extended to include other conjectural spaces in contemporary society such as the cinema and video games, idealised open spaces such as deserts and seas and finally nocturnal architectures engendered both by urban environments and by internal mindscapes of fear. An attempt is made to define invisible architecture in a contemporary setting as a tool that allows us to cut, sculpt and fashion our environment and give shape to our artistic aspirations.

Craft has come to mean everything and nothing in modern parlance and the purpose of this dissertation is to attempt to provide an updated vision of its true nature today. The field extends from arts and crafts (hand-made craft / handicrafts) to wholesale craft businesses working with or for industry and it is therefore difficult to define a single position occupied by craft in contemporary society.

An initial historical review raises issues concerning the relevance of traditional definitions based on an opposition between hand-made crafts and mechanical production, or criteria evaluating scale of production. Other factors are analysed such as organisation of the working environment (workshop / studio) and human relationships.

The second part of the dissertation re-evaluates original models of craftwork by, for example William Morris and the Arts & Crafts movement, seen in a contemporary context. This reveals a number of mutations that have occurred in the workplace. Among those highlighted, specific attention is paid to the use of machinery, the craft studio as a social microcosm, craft work as a platform for experimentation or innovation and also its role in cultural transmission or education. Concrete examples of today's practices in craft and design help elucidate some of the possible issues concerning methods of working, production and social organisation as currently practiced or possible in the near future. The study concludes that craft is present in multiple areas of our society. Tools such as internet, open-source models and new technologies are changing ways of working, designing and fabricating and the global craft model seems to be evolving towards a freer form of design in which everyone is free to choose and make.

The main objective of this research is to study the major components of urban drift and to observe its various applications in the public environment in a contemporary town such as Limoges. Urban drift is a specific way to apprehend public space, both theoretically and physically, based on walking and wandering. The method allows an individual to explore surrounding space freely, guided solely by immediate impressions and subjective appreciation of the location. This unusual practice has his origins in different intellectual and artistic movements and is a key reference for many theorists and artists engaged in contemporary public space. Primarily, urban drift is a concrete way to discover urban landscape and take stock of its formal characteristics and significance. It is also an effective way to discern its strengths and weaknesses. Above all, the method implies adopting a new approach to how we design space for living and dwelling in tomorrow's cities.

Roland Barthes wrote Empire of Signs in 1970 as a record of his experience traveling across Japan, seeing the country through its cultural symbols. The present dissertation applies Barthes' methodology to a personal reading of current Chinese society. A first section consists of interviews with older friends and acquaintances whose recollections establish aspects of China's cultural background originating in the 1950s to 80s, with particular emphasis placed on ordinary objects that reflect the state of China and its peoples over this period. A further series of objects or phenomena, old and new, are then used to evoke China today. Analysis of for example street radio broadcasts, shop dummies in Tibet or contemporary cinema, is accompanied by a selection of artworks that also shed additional light on shared tastes and cultural visions in China today.

This study, based on practical cases, works of art and philosophy, aims to analyse the common ground between jewellery and dispositives. An initial section discusses the meaning of dispositives in its original Deleuzian sense as well as more general senses that include management or administrative systems, legal apparatus, mechanical or social devices. These notions are then used to define various aspects of jewellery and the phenomena associated with the wearing of jewellery in public. The analysis concludes by demonstrating how body ornaments and jewellery act not only as decorative adjuncts but also can function as decorations in the sense of marks of status (such as medals) indicating valour or membership of a specific group. They frequently communicate political or ethical messages and taken together form a complex panoply of interactions for both wearer and onlooker. Power, politics, body and aesthetics are centred on one object that both shields and projects the wearer.

Animated objects fascinate our modern minds. They are approached here in three sections, firstly through a close study of the term animated, next determining the significance of animated objects to us today and finally reviewing current strategies to animate objects. Western and Asian visions are compared in their interpretation of what constitutes living or animated matter. The term also implies movement, a paradigm that is explored here through a study of animated films and kinetic art. Certain works of great designers and artists offer a vision of the animated object as a powerful answer to emotional needs through interactivity. As a student of product design, interpretations based on my own Chinese cultural background and personal experiences are discussed in relation to my diploma project which shares the same subject as this dissertation.

Semantic imprecision and changing definitions constantly blur perceptions of the world around us. The present dissertation discusses fundamental issues that can cloud clear understanding of our environment, particularly from a designer’s point of view. An initial section strives to distinguish between things and objects, an approach that draws on the writings of philosophers and encompasses questions of utilitarianism and cultural context examined critically in the light of recent technological advances.

A second section raises cognitive and poetic aspects of naming things and where such practices encounter the unnamable. The relation between humans and manufactured objects, focusses on notions of possession and ability to influence the objects in our possession. A discussion of perception of colour and quality for example, draws on recent models of physiological and neurological pathways which add further understanding to poetic, artistic and philosophical approaches. This leads to an analysis of distinctions made between what has form and what is formless, again comparing the views of a range of writers and evoking the reflexive power of man over objects.

Art school, an essay...

How to choose a research subject ?
Need to keep, to collect, to stick, to record, to write, to preserve a trace.
A trace of everything, as if I forgot events after they happened.
So I take notes, I write, I stick everything. Everything and for a long time.
I consider this essay to be a journey, some kind of wandering.
Strolling around the numerous steps of creation. A tangled and complicated way to understand and learn.
At the beginning, a question which has haunted me since I started art school:
Why do I have to create? Desire, feeling, urge, need, hobby? Cure? The action of creating reassures me, transports me, helps me, comforts me. Because we can let go of everything when creating, because we are free, creation is the driving force of our lives. I don’t want this travel journal to be a therapeutic tool, only to understand what moves me and why.
A journey to understand reasons as well as emotions.
I look for what falls under the emotion of "making", what falls under the emotion of “thinking”.
I look for the perception of how emotions are engendered at the moment of creation.
I look for the object, how and why I create it, things it takes from me, things it gives to someone else.
The object is the jewel. I choose it because it offers a freedom: the possibility to be in between.
It doesn’t involve one approach more than the other and it offers new possibilities and new stakes.
Through this journey I want to define it today, to explain it to myself.

The art of tea originated in China before spreading to Japan where it developed further. This study begins with research into the Japanese Tea Ceremony as an embodiment of the question of experience in design, a subject closely related to my personal project. The sensory and spiritual characteristics of the tea ceremony provide the starting point for a review of space, light and emotion in architecture and product design, evoking notions of wabi-sabi in Japanese aesthetics, as well as the implications of spatial and bodily experience, self-understanding and the role of the body in design. Comparison between Western and Eastern approaches are illustrated by case studies of contemporary architecture and product designs. The importance of spatial, physical and spiritual experience in today's living environments is underlined and it is shown how they can affect the perception and state of mind not only of users but also of designers. Coming full circle with a review of contemporary designs for teahouses, and drawing parallels in the fields of design, art and cinema the study concludes by enquiring how such approaches might inform better user experiences in the design of the intangible such as service products.

The principal subject of this report is the emancipation of women in the field of visual arts from post modernity to today. A recent survey reported that there are less women than men working as practicing artists despite women being more numerous as students in art schools. In a step to explain this imbalance, two books were analysed; Eugénie Lemoine Luccioni’s Dividing of Women and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. Case studies of women artists’ living conditions add a further dimension to this analysis. The second part of the dissertation turns to other brands of feminism, in particular Kate Millett’s historical and literary milestone, Sexual Politics. Examples are drawn from the works of artists generally substantiating the author’s claims and underlining feminist issues that were raised in the seventies. Lastly, the societal upheavals which have taken place since the 1990s are considered in the light of the new rights and freedoms women managed to acquire and those areas where inequalities still persist.

Representation is an interface that creates a dialogue. It makes us more sensitive to something by offering us a substitute of that very same thing. The present study examines the phenomenon of representation and our relation to it, highlighting the way we perceive and assimilate representations as well as tools we use to realize them.

A second part of the study attempts to establish the influence Mankind’s first representations in paint and charcoal still have on contemporary practices in art. Parallels between various media are underlined. At every stage, analyses and comparisons are made of artworks from many periods of history ranging from the earliest prehistoric cave paintings to recent video installations.

Finally a conclusion spotlights the effects of technological advances which are shown to have had a significant influence on our continuous drift towards a world of ever more de-materialised representations.

This study attempts to trace the ineffable occurrence of the Sacred in the art of our currently disillusioned society, particularly its presence in the field of contemporary cinema. An introduction discusses the works of several writers and philosophers who have examined the Sacred as a cultural or anthropological concept or in the light of theology, sociology and mythology. The basic links with art and with film are then examined each in turn. Rather than examining the sacralising nature of a film theatre, emphasis is given instead to filmic treatment of the Sacred, how it is shaped by a director and the emotional experience that can be generated. Analysis is particularly centred on characters themselves, methods of staging fictional individuals and how they are portrayed. The study seeks to understand how reality can be expunged to reveal the intangible energy of the Sacred conjured from a panoply of cinematic techniques (e .g. directing actors, shooting, editing...) and more concrete elements such as actors and set designs. Through study of a corpus of films and their filmmakers, the dissertation focusses on how sacrality is transmitted in the West, in other words how Judeo-Christian culture continues to inform current artistic creation and therefore the way cinematographic sacrality builds on the foundations of religious sacrality. Finally, a conclusion evokes a form of contemporary sacredness that is both universal and secular, one that is embodied by the figure of the dancer and actor.

Se mouvoir, s'émouvoir

Move and Be Moved

Today, in certain types of art, mobility of the spectator is an important factor and it is often taken into account by artists making sculptures and installations. This raises the question of whether such works can be considered truly autonomous.

In order to examine the issue, selected art works are presented here in three categories according to the emotions they provoke: embarrassment (discomfort), intrigue (curiosity) and promise (expectation). Unlike a critical discourse, this study analyses the emotional experience induced by contact with works of art. Although reactions are necessarily personal and vary with each individual, emotional responses of any kind are the first step in understanding and appreciating art, and therefore in developing our own critical faculties. This leads to the conclusion that it is Art that makes us autonomous.

Dissertation in the form of a website.

Temporary link to Passionately_Curious
a study of collectors and the phenomenon of collecting.

The present study focusses on the place of photography as a traditional artistic medium of representation and describes new uses of photography in contemporary art. Neglected for a while in the field of art - considered a simple technique of representation - recognition of photography as an expressive art has been slow and difficult. Used as a physical trace of reality at a given time, photography makes a connection between picture and what is represented.

Through its mechanical properties, photography is able to give an objective and accurate picture of what the photographic lens sees. Since its creation in the 19th century and early 20th century, photography has been used as a way to document the world’s socio-economic, technological, and political changes: industrialization, urbanization, scientific and technical discoveries, etc….

Recognition of photography as an artistic medium in its own right has been late, as it had to struggle with artistic issues of representation anchored in the traditions of painting and drawing. Documentary uses of photography helped visual art develop new approaches to representation. Photography’s influence over art grew after World War II: first used as a document in Land Art or Body Art movements, photography finally found its own expressive voice in the 60s and 80s. Photographic series, mise en scène or staging, new photographic themes, relationship with spectators all became key questions photography could now tackle.

The dawn of digital photography redefined contemporary practices. As Régis Debray has commented, the growing immateriality of pictures, exchanged in the form of virtual digital information or on-screen imagery, and their growing dominance in social medias has tended to drown photography in a flood of pictures. Photographs are fast becoming just another picture among all the others.

The subject of this dissertation is the link between humans and the forest, especially in Western culture. Forests, real or imagined, are a recurring phenomenon in the human psyche and constitute a significant cultural paradigm. The dissertation starts by retracing the foundations of our cultural and historical relation with the forest through examples of folktales, myths and legends drawn from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. Vestiges of these images of the forest are then examined as they appear after the advent of the age of the reason, detached from a mystical, superstitious or religious past, and surviving in new forms of culture, such as films. The reasons certain ideas should survive allows an analysis that gives insights into the workings of human imagination. Finally it is suggested that our image of the forest may be more than just a cultural pattern, hypothesising that it is a deep psychological and cultural symbol embedded in human nature and possibly a fundamental base of mankind's collective existence.

The forest is an important phenomenon in Western culture from ancient times until today. It is also a significant symbol in the human psyche. Thus, perhaps contemporary concerns about the environment fail to recognise that the issues are not solely ecological but also impinge on cultural memory, imagination and maybe even upon the psychology of human beings.

This dissertation takes the form of an enquiry into the motivations behind my own work which is an amalgam of texts and physical materials. Through descriptions and dialogues, it builds up a portrait of the world I try to create and the approaches initiated in order to generate works. Fictional or autobiographical essays are interspersed with theoretical writings from a variety of sources, tackling issues that are central to my reflections and this double line of enquiry is underlined by the use of a typographical code, distinguishing between reference texts and those I have written. Taken as a whole, the dissertation may be seen either as the record of a single story or as a collection of separate statements, constructed much like the script of a play.


The Poetics of Elsewhere

The present study is concerned with the concept of a "poetics of elsewhere". It begins with a survey of the many theories of landscape combined with references in literature, film and fine art. This leads to the observation that landscape is often perceived as a "dream of elsewhere", as a projected space in the mind. The rest of the study examines more closely this desire to escape from a familiar environment, a desire that can be as much an obsession as a source of inspiration.

Is escape necessary to be in the world? In a society dominated by possession and frenetic activity, the abundance of representations of landscape reflects a significant desire for a return to nature. Landscape offers an alternative and often imagined space. We ask what sort of landscapes emerge from the minds of artists? Do they reference the landscape as a place or as an element of the artist's work? The answer is ambiguous.

Under the heading "Confined Immensity of a Motionless Journey", evocation of landscape is traced through aspects of its frequent connection with reminiscences of landscapes we have in us. It is shown how artists interact with our interior landscapes through the use of "landscape fragments".

Finally, finding the "elsewhere" in everyday life may be a means to escape from our ordinary urban lives so filled with burdensome tasks. Artworks can create a poetic atmosphere by evoking fictions both inspired by real life and present in it. They can prolong the daydream and therefore, "poetics from elsewhere" can be seen as constituting a genuine artistic approach.

Urban space is a place for living, where people from different ages and different times meet each other. The past and the present live together in the same area. Ever since people started organising themselves in communities and building houses these structures have developed at the same time as our society and in parallel with progress in technology and techniques. How does imagary, as a medium, question the occupation of space in our daily lives, our place in society and the community, in our own domestic space? How do our looks get lost in the street ? Where to look ? How do we analyze signs which guide our daily existence, and how to get rid of them, to re-codify the city in a creative way ?

We experience visual contamination every day in all its forms, seeing the world close up, in its immediacy and viewing it differently through a screen.

Some alternative spaces can give inhabitants freedom of appropriation and transformation, for example in the New City of Valparaiso where ephemeral structures are allowed to develop and no architecture is imposed. And in other cities you can find remains from the past, as in many East German cities strongly marked by the past that can be read on the facades of buildings.

One solution is to make art accessible to all, to take it out of the hands of private spheres, museums and galleries. Furthermore, exhibiting art in the streets would allow the individual identity of constructions and the image of cities to develop and "glorify the city, participating in the ordinary happiness of everyone." (Gustave Kahn, Thierry Paquot, L'esthétique de la rue, p.11).

In our cities, we are continuously confronted with information shown through drawings, posters, unofficial signs that together make up the visual identity of our environment. These everyday streams of information expose us to a language of visual codes that in a moral sense, guide us in our lives. Without it would we lose all sense of orientation, perception, or awareness of our surroundings? Do we need these signs and symbols to make sense of our environment?

This dissertation is the trace left by a human being in search of meaning, in the form of a peculiar object. It is brought about by the world, and spurred on by fascination, but also by ambiguity between truth and reality. Certain themes predominate; origin and identity, looking for the meaning of existence and life, work and creation, philosophical approaches to daily life.  This stream of consciousness is told in three distinct phases: spontaneous and rough writing of a diary; retrospective work on the author’s memory of this study’s bibliography; the publishing and sharing of this dissertation, intended to invite the reader to pursue its endeavor. The object of this study is the liberating aspect of asking questions, of catching fleeting thoughts and confronting their uncertainty and their clumsiness.

Tally Ho !

Tally Ho ! is a study of the female hunter, drawing on her image seen through the eyes of myths and writings in anthropology and paleontology. A more modern portrait is provided by examining the life and works of Karen Blixen who famously hunted lions in Africa. Interviews with other women currently involved in hunting concludes the first part of this dissertation.

In the second half, notions of relationships between hunter and hunted are approached from different perspectives, evoking the psychology of participating in traditional practices, community, the cinema's vision of pursuit of clues and crimes and the motives behind the founding of Paris' Museum of Hunting and the Natural Environment.

Random Access Memory

Dissertation as a Game Medium

How would one play with a dissertation ? What could make a dissertation a game ?

The study begins with playing a custom-made card game, comprised of a list of game definitions, followed by a list of keywords from Espen Aarseth's thesis CYBERTEXT, a dissertation on the cybernetic aspect of some texts, and then a list of keywords from Jesper Juul's book HALF REAL, which explores the relationship between the real set of game-defining rules and the fictitious world in which the game is set in. Rather than following a sequential access to data, the dissertation is random access, i.e. any information at any point at any time can be accessed by the player.

The goal of the game is for the player to reveal all the cards composing the dissertation. The game starts with what Aarseth calls hypertext aporia, when the player begins in terra incognita, and its turning point is hypertext epiphany, when the gathered content starts making sense to the reader/player.

The point of this dissertation's shape, on the one hand, is its replay value: despite having the same database, no single game will have the same sequence of information, or be read twice the same way. On the other hand, is the dissertation's transmediality, by borrowing concepts from game theory and computer science.

Horror Vacui

This dissertation, entitled Horror Vacui concerns filling emptiness. However, the process could be defined in many ways, perhaps as filling a surface with a pattern or filling life with meaning or even filling these pages with something to write about.

A first section analyzes how pattern is used in decorative art to cover empty space and blot out the void. The notion of filling in empty space as a repetitive task is then examined and how crafting patterns can be seen as a pathway to self-construction.

Finally, the question of our ultimate purpose in filling emptiness is raised and debated, postulating that whatever is beyond understanding probably makes no sense. Consequently it follows that if we cannot hope to find meaning in this manner, our real purpose must lie elsewhere, perhaps in an urge to seek sensations.

Hyper-Realistic Monsters

Excessive Imaginations

Examining the figure of the monster in hyper-realistic sculpture, paradoxically, allows us to question our human condition. If contemporary artists sometimes portray the body "teratologically" i.e. distorted, disfigured, changed in many ways, manipulated, metamorphosed, decomposed, etc., it is because monster s have the ability to draw our attention, generating both fascination and repulsion. Sometimes reminiscent of fabulous beings of ancient civilizations, sometimes mutants of the industrial and genetic era, these extremely realistic hybrid sculptures reflect fantasies and fears in our society. Such deformation of bodies constitutes a disturbing bestiary testifying to the phobias and bodily obsessions of our time, coincidental with the beginnings of an era of technical reproducibility of the body through aesthetic surgery or biotechnology. The monster has the power to become a metaphor, to become a double that shows us another side of ourselves, while allowing us to apprehend otherness.

This dissertation examines objects as a vulgarization tool, and how it is a medium which follows us throughout our lives, geared towards teaching and gaining knowledge. As soon as we are able to play, revealing our senses begins with toys, designed to teach us human life’s basics: effectively done by using our senses, our dexterity,and our problem solving ability.

My research is based on diverse objects and on our way of exploring our surroundings. I reuse user manual codes and signs, since it is not only a cluster of data, but a transmission tool and an object in itself. When we are children, our goal is to accumulate and to learn as much knowledge as possible in order to evolve, to develop our senses, and to shape our mind. In short, I try to define how objects are an important element of vulgarization.

Objects to Slow down Time

In this dissertation an attempt is made to analyse the causes and consequences of hastiness or speed in everyday life and how the design of certain objects can be instrumental in regaining calmer and fuller awareness of ourselves.

Observations since the Industrial Revolution suggest society is suffering from a perceived unrelenting acceleration in the pace of life, a cult for speed that generates anxiety and feelings of losing control.

However, certain objects seem to offer an antidote to performance-based models of our world and help generate a more balanced outlook. Several such examples are examined, with emphasis on how they act to help us savour the present moment, to find pleasure in ordinary occurrences and ultimately to understand how they engineer feelings of well-being. It is noted they appear to have a common ability to encourage appreciation of time as it passes. In this way, a link is created between our body and its environment, one that nourishes our minds and brings full appreciation of ordinary existence.

This thesis deals with the general relation between man and objects, specifically considering the question in the case of routines. Objects are created by and for humans, to fulfill specific needs. Thedesigner aims to make the object easy and intuitive to use both in form and functionality. Ideally it must attract users, eliciting positive emotions and powers of seduction yet always leave room for appropriation.

A link is created between a user and an object. It starts at a visual level when the future owner is initially seduced or intrigued by the object. Once acquired, the object must then prove its worth in practical use and meet its owner's expectations. The final stage involves establishment of memories and a sentimental relationship through habit or routine. Latour and Strum posit two components of habits that can be applied here to the use of objects; “ostensive” (i.e. objects functioning the way they were designed) and “performative” (functioning in practice according to the user's preferences). Routine is therefore an integral aspect in an object's life cycle. Often seen as something negative, on the contrary it provides reassurance in our everyday lives and modifies our perception of the object itself.