Back to front and inside out : thinking through the body in a sculptural practice
Harrison, Jessica Emily
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In this research, I unthread the role of the body in sculpture by applying a model of thinking through the body to generate alternative ways of thinking about and working with the body sculpturally. Breaking away from a dominance of the figure over the body in sculptural practice, I deconstruct the figure through a consideration of the senses and the relationship between interior and exterior spaces of the body. Looking neither inwards towards a hidden core, nor outwards from the subconscious, I instead look orthogonally across the skin as a way to overcome the figure, using the surface of the body as a mode for both looking and thinking. To achieve this, I start by undertaking a re-‐description of skin based upon an interaction between artist, object, space, and viewer rather than as something that divides or contains these elements, assuming an equality and equilibrium of the body between maker and viewer. Moving beyond a bi-‐directional model, I propose a multi-‐directional and pervasive model of skin as a space in which body and world mingle. I explore this mingling through a reconsideration of tactility in sculpture, drawing on the active body in both making and interpreting sculpture to address processes of imaginative touch and proprioceptive sensation in sculptural practice. I argue that imaginative touch is a key aspect in engaging the body of the viewer that can be manipulated by the way in which materials are handled, generating proprioceptive sensation. This project re-‐describes tactility within sculpture as something ultimately more complex than the touching of artworks, as a process intertwined with the visual. Mapping out the projection of the tactile body, this research follows the tracing process of the body rather than the trace of the body itself, exploring touch as revealing the way in which we perceive sculpture.