Lois Rowe

Primary page content

Lois Rowe's MPhil/PhD Art research project

The Rhetoric of Silence in Discourses on Truth

My work is centred on how the perceived limits and gaps inherent to language inform belief. I construct films and videos as one might an argument, usually laying down narration over footage that has been shot separately. These narrations focus on areas that I feel exemplify where language is unverifiable and therefore most saliently shows its limits: i.e. talk of colour, humour, taste and pain—they feature language in its most rhetorical incarnations, rather than strictly adhering to its most typical role as assignor of meaning.

By exploiting the tension in narration between seduction (pulling inward) and incongruity (pushing outward) I hope to expand a space in my work, where the viewer is able to question the impulse to ‘fall into’ the medium of film and where resistance to the urge to empathize with its narrator occurs. By doing this, I hope to invite attention more broadly to the potential of the site where the boundaries between self and other, between empathy and closure, can be redrawn.

The thesis explores what I see as a modern tendency toward truth still evident in art today, and the simultaneous suspicion toward the very notion of truth itself. I suggest that this paradox is critically perpetuated through art’s use of language and abstraction. Taking neo-expressionism as the art historical precedent for my research, I discuss how rhetorical strategies used in art practices today are an extension of that moment’s attempts to reveal the mechanics of the expressionist claim to a space beyond language, beyond representation.