As you are well aware, we are all third years trying to produce an intelligent 10,000 word BA dissertation, and as expected, we are all lagging behind like the generations of final year students before us. As I am a HAMS student (History of Art w/ Material Studies), my dissertation must revolve around something related to art and materiality and/or conservation and/or museum practices. Being an art historian by day and digital painter at night, I decided that my dissertation would combine the two.

This is my synopsis as of December 13th 2011 – I am starting to deviate from it slightly, but our tutors said that is expected as our research progresses…

DIGITAL PAINTING: VISUALITY VERSUS MATERIALITY

This dissertation will consider digital artworks and what happens to the concept of “the original” once an artwork exists on a file as a series of coded numbers rather than as a tangible, physical object. (In this context, the term “digital art” will only include paintings created digitally using computer software). There have been several recent debates on whether or not one can legitimately address aesthetic issues without to some extent addressing the medium. Some argue that art needs to be studied under a broader term of “visual culture” in which it is seen as a process of ideology, whereas others state that it is impossible to assess a work solely as a visual artefact without also discussing material questions which are closely linked to artistic practice and processes. I will place digital painting practice within this context, discussing it in relation to Jean Baudrillard’s writings on simulacra, and consider these artworks as visual artefacts without material originals. I will further argue that despite their lack of physicality, artistic practices form an intrinsic part of these non-material paintings, the inside space of the computer software being a place in which virtual and physical spaces intersect.

Seeing that it is currently reading week, I am hoping to do a proper push on my dissertation, as it has been severely ignored in between…all the other stuff I’ve felt like doing instead. But with my cup of tea, I am feeling slightly motivated again. I am actually going to do a really bold thing now, and start writing a 1st draft. I am not nearly done with my research, and I know it is a ludicrous way of going about, but I will do it anyway. Our teachers want us to write a structured “skeleton” before proceeding with anything else, and I will be following their advice –  but my mind works in the sense that I need to start writing large bits here and there in order to understand where I really want to go with my essays. I can’t keep all the information neatly placed in my head, nor do I know exactly what I want to argue for or against unless I write it down. And as this is supposed to be the culmination of my academic career so far, I don’t want it to be a disastrous failure…

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