Roman Vasseur

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Roman Vasseur's MPhil/PhD Art research project

I am the Sun and Cannot be Gazed upon Fixedly! Is the human an empty centre of ideology for art, architecture and politics?

The proposed PhD will test the claim that ‘the social’ has become the ‘software’ of its own representation in culture and politics; a claim which renders the human component of that ‘software’ an empty centre of ideology and art. The PhD proposal builds on a practice that interrogates the means of representing and constructing ‘the social’ in liberal democracies.

Whether it is transporting a crate of earth from Transylvania to Los Angeles, planning the ritual execution of an international mural artist or disinterring a town’s original master-plan as a noirish, material fiction, past work has constructed scenarios around which the ‘social’ materialises as an unstable, mythological and sometimes horrific figure — a figure that cannot be looked upon directly but remains forceful nonetheless. It is the materiality of this figure-without-ground that will be the focus of the new research.

Whilst the social is at present strenuously addressed in the fields of art, sociology, philosophy and architecture, it is not extensively addressed through the operation and effect of its image and attendant fictions. This thesis will take up current thinking with regard to the metaphysical, theological and political implications of the image in constructing the social – specifically in the realms of urban planning, the culture industry and economics. The research will consider the following questions and problematics:

How does the social appear if not through its presence? Does it appear through its value and potential for connectivity in late capitalist societies or its cinematic rendering? Do these conditions transform the social into software of its representation, evacuating a stable ground for the human and producing a crisis of representation or horror? Can the figure of the human be eclipsed and publicness reformulated?