For my philosophy module this semester, we have the option to either submit an essay and textual commentary or an art project and brief. I originally wrote off the art project as I was worried the kind of work I make might not be conceptual enough. Then I remembered an idea I had last year of looking at modern instances of the sublime - in terms of the scale of technological infrastructure, the threat of capitalism and climate change, natural disasters, etc. - and realised how connected it was to what we are studying. I emailed my tutor, who said it would be a great way to kerry tjr two works.
Our module this year is called Understanding Media - The Philosophical and Cultural Impacts of Technology. It looks to expand discussion surrounding technology from one that focuses on its practical aspects to one that considers wider philosophical perspectives: political, phenomenological, hauntological…
I would like to make a small series of landscape paintings looking at how modern infrastructures affect our sense of scale and place in the world. Concretely, this would involve going to various places near Dundee (the oil rigs, windmills, abandoned factories and hospital….) and painting them in a way that emphasises how they change my relationship to the landscape.
What are the various levels on which I experience them? Do they contradict each other?
I’ll take particularly inspiration in Mark Fisher’s writings in Ghosts of my Life on Hauntology, a term coined by Jacques Derrida to refer to how lost futures and dreams of the past live on in the present even if they never came to fruition. I’m particularly interested in Fisher’s writings on contemporary nihilism, which he relates to an inability to imagine the future. How might I represent the sense of creative decay caused by capitalist realism?
So far, I have gone out the oil rigs, where I drew some sketches, did some audio recordings and took some pictures. I then collaged some of the photos together to construct a composition.
[UPDATE] I’ve also uploaded my full art description, which goes in a lot more depth about the philosophical perspectives of this project.
Derrida, Jacques, Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International (Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge, 2006).
Fisher, Mark, Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures (London: Zero Books, 2014).