Presence | Absence: MFA Thesis - Ceramics
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process and technique
being and time
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION::Aesthetic subjects::Art
AbstractHumans are complex, imaginative, and explorative beings. We are investigators, travelers, builders, and lovers. We create and destroy—build and tear down—come together and fall apart. We are thinkers and doers, and we are determined to locate our exact physical and philosophical place within the universe. Nous, or Mind, is a philosophical term introduced by the Greeks, which describes what enables our intellect, and is necessary for our understanding of what is true or real. Nous exists in a space that is between the real, tangible, physical world and the world that exists only within the complex, confines of the brain—our imagination. I am interested in the dichotomy between investigation and imagination, and the physical world and the imaginary world and where these concepts and places converge within the spectrum of visual art. Through geology, astrophysics, metaphysics, and ontology, I explore the making process, materials, deconstruction/reconstruction, human nature, and chance. The objects I make are abstracted physical representations of the abstract concept of thought and imagination, and symbolize the space where ‘Being’ exists—between what is real and what is unreal. Martin Heidegger uses the German term ‘Dasein,’ and ‘Seiend’ which translate into English as, ‘Being,’ in his essay “Being and Time,” from 1927. As explained by Simon Critchley from “Being and Time, part 1: Why Heidegger Matters,” ‘Being’ is not something like a being. Being, Heidegger claims, is ‘what determines beings as beings, that in terms of which beings are already understood.’ In other words, being is Presence | Absence Henry 2 Presence | Absence Henry 3 distinguished from beings such as physical objects or even, as Heidegger explains in his discussion of the ‘worldhood of the World,’ that entire collection of things that constitutes the physical universe. To preserve Heidegger's distinction, translators usually render ‘Sein’ as ‘being’, the gerund of ‘to be’, and ‘Seiend’ (singular) and ‘Seiendes’ (plural) as the verb- derived noun ‘a being’ and ‘beings,’ and occasionally, perhaps preferably, as ‘an entity’ and ‘entities’. [sic] (24) The philosophical concept of the Void is referenced as the void spaces within my work. Heidegger would have understood the Void as a clearing or a space that enables the presence of, or the bringing forth of something—which is how we can begin to find the alētheia (truth) of Being. The inner content is something that is not immediately apparent, but requires an opening, a space, in which to be drawn out, where it can then be communicated and possibly understood. Anaxagoras held that everything is infinitely divisible and that even the smallest portion of matter contains some of each element. (Russell 62) Although unsupportive of the concept of the Void, which began appearing in philosophy in the fourth book of Aristotle’s “Physica,” I ask this: could the Being—the thing that separates us from other sentient beings and allows us our complexity—exist within the Void? If the ‘Being’ resides within our bodies, could there be void space within us? It is here the discussion begins; with what is ‘Being,’ what is its purpose, and where does it exist? There is much about the world and our own mental physiology that we do not know. According to Heidegger, “it is said that ‘Being’ is the most universal and the emptiest of concepts. As such it resists every attempt at definition” (Heidegger 22). I explore these questions through my sculptures by depicting the space where the soul lives,; within a mass of earth, surrounded by the elements that forge our bodies and make us what and who we are.
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