‘Re-presenting the Physical Act: an exploration of the physical presence of the body through its screen representation’ (2012)
Dr Andrea Phillips
Dr Maria Walsh, Professor Michael Newman
This thesis considers the dynamic relation between the physical presence of the body and its presence as a screen image, through which I examine the impact of visual media technologies on our conceptions and perceptions of the body as a physical presence. The effects of these technologies on traditional notions and conditions of physicality and representation mark, I suggest, a shift in our relationship to, and understanding of the body as a physical presence as we become more used to interacting and communicating with the body through the immediacy of screen images.
This has led I further suggest, to questions regarding the body as a material presence and to the technologically mediated image becoming associated with notions of disappearance and disembodiment. I understand however, the condition of the body as being very much embedded in a material world and I approach this project therefore, through the proposition of ‘the physicality of an image’ through which I argue for a reconceptualisation of the materiality of the body through its physical presence as an image. The research examines the relationship between video and performance in fine art practice, through which I consider the rhetorics of presence in relation to the politics of representation and reproduction inherent throughout the histories of their close alliance.
It is my assertion that early experiments by artists using video to document performance acts during the 1960s and 1970s reveal a prescient understanding of the development of visual media technologies in ways that prefigure our contemporary moment. My understanding of this dynamic is extended through a consideration of concepts of visibility and invisibility and of formal structures of representation, to arrive at the paradoxical notion of embodied vision through an affective dimension of the body as it could be applied and conceived of as material or physical in relation to (or as a consequence of) temporal concerns in film and video works.