Francisco Sousa Lobo

Primary page content

Francisco Sousa Lobo's MPhil/PhD Art research project

Crisis of meaning, crisis of form

The purpose of my research is to investigate the relationship between crisis of meaning and crisis of form in art production, fruition and critique. This investigation is grounded on notions present in historic and contemporary nihilism that state that a crisis inevitably occurs, through enlightenment, in the relationship between the manifest image and realist and scientific principles.

This understanding of nihilism attempts an extraction from ethics, and puts nihilism against previous roles given to it. The philosophical approach present in nihilism has been used either as a byword for the enemy of reason, or as a dark background against which affirmation (Nietzsche), creative evolution (Bergson), or existentialism (Sartre) can shine. It is our purpose to explore the notion of crisis of meaning as the essence of nihilism (Ray Brassier), and overview its active ramifications in art.

The field of form can be seen as immanently enacting a split between project and world (Bataille) – a split that runs parallel to crisis of meaning in philosophy. It is central to my research to investigate the locus of this crisis, in its relation to contextual crises, be it personal (psychosis), political (revolution), social, and crisis in the very set of criteria brought about in each instance of art.

The contemporary condition is one where intelligibility has been detached from meaning (Brassier), yet the issues of meaning and truth are still central to art practices and critique, and will be central to my work.

The works of Simone Weil and Bas Jan Ader will serve as guiding principles for tone and self reflection embedded in crisis itself.

The written element will consist of twelve short chapters with as many incursions into particular instances where the notion of crisis of meaning is set to bring new clarity to pre-existing fields, from critical terrains to specific media and art history. The practical element will deal with notions of crisis of meaning and form, as well as with personal crisis, and will take the form of prospective architecture (houses for historical figures), narratives about extreme states of being and the ends of narrative (comic books), and a continued research on familial crises in inter-media situations.