Subjects and Questions

For my Master of Fine Arts degree I started looking at the cross-over of interior and exterior landscapes. My initial investigations were done in quite a basic way, where I concerned myself with the sanitised representations of ‘man-made’ nature contained in domestic interior and exterior decoration, taking the separation of space provided by architecture for granted. The time-span that predominately interested me was from the 1750’s through to the Victorian age. At this point, I started becoming interested in the philosophy of the Sublime, and tried to draw parallels between its philosophical development and changes in decoration that touched on elements such as power, control, patriarchy, identity and Colonialism. At this point I started to become dissatisfied with the explanations that my basic readings on the sublime (Burke and Kant) were giving me. As my work was also encompassing the traditionally ‘female’ domain of the domestic interior, and with readings such as The Poetics of Space by Bachelard and On Longing by Susan Stewart, my work was also looking at the small, the everyday and the insignificant. These ‘masculine’ theories of the Sublime were starting to become big, pompous and distant and were not allowing the possibility for a sublime of the everyday, for the everyday person, the domestic, the body and the feminine. Although I could still understand the original philosophies as regards the Sublime in nature, I started to question this missing link, and whether or not there actually could be such a thing as a Domestic Sublime. My Masters dissertation was therefore a short reflective essay on a section of these initial investigations and how this related to my own and other pieces of artwork.

Three years on and my PhD subjects are slowly emerging. Through a residency at Mills Observatory (the only public Observatory in Scotland) my explorations into the cross-over of interior and exterior landscapes were extended to sound, light and the electromagnetic substance in general. This caused me to question my view of architecture as a border or separation of physical space, as electromagnetism pervades into and out of domestic environments knowing no boundary. My interest in the Sublime is still ongoing and has moved on to writers that are re-appropriating it for a female subject, such as Barbara Freeman, Joanna Zylinska and Christine Battersby. These writers are dissecting Longinus, Burke and Kant (amongst others) and presenting the ‘feminine sublime’ as an excess or an ‘immersive’ experience that includes the mundane, the emotional, the domestic and the intellectual. The encompassing elements of EM waves, my love of the water and continuing interest in the domestic interior make the term ‘immersive’ particularly poignant for me; thus my PhD is (at the moment) is looking at the term ‘immersive’ in relation to feminist theories of the sublime. This is being compared to three case studies; the domestic interior, the underwater exterior and the electromagnetic substance. My questions will follow at a later date!