The Virtual, Alternate Spaces, and the Effects upon Artwork

The Virtual, Alternate Spaces, and the Effects upon Artwork

Alistair James Payne (Glasgow School of Art, UK)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8205-4.ch005
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This chapter explores the philosophical notion of The Virtual in response to the writings of Gilles Deleuze and unfolds this thinking through its interdisciplinary and transformative effects upon contemporary fine art. The Virtual is discussed in relation to forms of contemporary painting, yet the chapter provides a model for thinking through interdisciplinarity within, and from, other media. The research investigates the perceived resistance of painting to explore external possibilities and introduces methodological strategies, which encounter externality as a means for establishing radical change. In this way, the Virtual acts as an instigator for change, which effectively destabilises the pre-formity attached to medium specific practices. It is for this reason that the Virtual forces external relationships and connections to come to the fore in order to radically alter and transform the physical and conceptual constructs of different disciplines. Alongside the discussion of the Virtual and its direct affects upon artistic practices, the chapter discusses literary models including hybridity and metamorphosis as potential key elements affecting transformative change.
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I was invited to take part in a video discussion on the notion of the Virtual, which was created for the ISEA conference, Istanbul in 2011. It was evident that the ideas that were being proposed from my perspective were very different from thinking around the virtual in relation to digital media and creative digital technologies.

The notion of the Virtual I proposed linked into my own research on interdisciplinarity focusing upon the philosophical methodologies of Gilles Deleuze in order to inform and affect change and transformation to the discipline of Painting within contemporary artistic practice. Therefore, it is important to emphasise that this writing has directly evolved from my practice as a painter. Having trained in painting, concerns relating to its contemporary condition led directly to my doctoral and post-doctoral research. This chapter examines the notion of the virtual from a philosophical perspective and so proposes an understanding of the virtual that is different from common parlance relating the virtual directly to, or embedded within, the digital.

This research outlines the relevance of the virtual as a philosophical idea that leads towards interdisciplinarity. It will be articulated in turn as a philosophical concept and subsequently its potential affects through the practice of painting, (whilst using reference to contemporary architectural theory as an exemplar for the practical application of the idea[s]). Allied to these propositions will be the citing of the cinematic through which a discussion surrounding the notion of time and space can critically open out the disciplinary strictures of painting as a contemporary practice.

Examples of my own practice will also be discussed in order to present how the notion of the virtual can potentially be actualised in form.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cinema: The reference to cinema stems from discussions within Deleuzian philosophy and the contemporary connections between the still, or static, painting image and the durational time based moving image of the cinema.

Interdisciplinarity: Interdisciplinarity is referenced and discussed within this chapter in terms of the possibilities of thinking beyond the parameters of disciplinary thought. This is discussed with particular emphasis upon (the expanded nature of) contemporary painting practices.

Becoming: The transitional aspect of transformation, that point at which one thing begins to become another.

Hybridity: Hybridity in this context refers to the doubling of two forms or beings to construct another, whilst retaining aspects of those previous individual entities. Within the chapter, ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley (2010) is discussed to propose a particular form of hybridity and a suggestive or creative description of hybridisation.

Resistance: The term resistance is used here to refer to a particular aspect of painting – a resistance through which painting attempts to retain its own formalist constraints, a resistance to all that which confers change, becoming and/or transformation.

Persistence: A term referring to the possibility that painting can persist through change, becoming and/or transformation. Persistence is used in this context as a term or position, which can either be considered through hybridity or alternatively the retention of something through the act of full transformation or becoming.

Deleuze: Gilles Deleuze, the French Philosopher is referred to throughout this chapter, with particular reference to his thinking around the notion of The Virtual and its connections to the possibilities of interdisciplinary thinking.

Transformation: This term is used to reference the potential change in form, appearance or character from one thing to another.

Painting: Painting is the ground from which this research has emanated; it is viewed from the perspective of traditional critical and philosophical parameters through the lens of contemporary non-linear thinking to establish new spaces for making and thinking painting.

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