Dissertation Proposal:

The relationship between the artist and their audiences; focusing on the active and passive participation of the audience.

The thought of coming up with a dissertation title was extremely daunting, the constellation lectures that I had attended (“Expressing the unseen” and “The Absurd”) were extremely interesting, with a vast amount of potentially inspiring topics discussed. Although it wasn’t until a brief conversation with a family friend that I seriously considered the topic for my dissertation, after he remarked on the passionate way that I spoke about the dependant relationship of the artist, their artworks and audience. This symbiotic relationship fascinates me, as the three depend on one another to continue the evolution of the creative and aesthetic fashions of society but it could be argued that neither the artist or audience are completely aware or appreciative of the others role in the cultural development of society.

Once my research into the relationship of the artist and the audience had started I began to understand the vast nature ot the topic and so searched for themes so as to formulate a more reasonable sub-topic so as not to over complicate the paper. The sociology and philosophy writings that I initially  began to read formed a fantastic base for my research, as well as the museum and curatorial literature that better considered the audience’s perspective. From these my dissertation topic began to take shape, spurred on by themes in and suggestions made about my own work;

The continuous piece – Although this piece does not include the audience directly in any interactive form it does alter the natural order of the relationship in that it never finishes and so no two audiences see the piece in the same way. By never finishing the create process, or resolving the piece the question is then asked whether the audience must consider only its current appearance or consider the stages it took to get to its current appearance. Started last year, the piece now looks like this: current appearance of the continuous painting

As an abstract artist I find that is sometimes difficult to decide when a piece has reached its resolve, and so the idea of this piece was begun as a slight protest against the need to say that a piece is “finished”. Especially as I consider the pieces theoretically shouldn’t “finish” but instead continue through the varied interpretations and receptions of those who encounter it. As well as the ideas that might be formed in the artist’s mind, inspired to create future pieces after ending work on a particular piece.

Painting with thread (This piece will be summated in May as part of my subject project) – The idea behind this pieces is journeys either the physical or theoretical journeys that we all go on. It was suggested that instead of doing all the thread work myself I allowed the audience to continue the painting. Although this would allow a new interpretation for the piece, it is my currently my opinion that allowing an audience to interact with a piece sometimes stops them from taking the time to consider what the artist is really asking of the audience. If an artist is considering an audience from the beginning of the process onwards then the piece created will probably be a more interactive piece. However, if the audience is not considered until later, the shift towards interaction has the potential to complicate an artists intentions as well as dulling the audience reception, and in some cases pause the audience from engaging intellectually with the art works. 

Considering my own opinions regarding the proposed dissertation topic I began to create a mind map that brought together some of the initial discussions that I hoped to raise in the dissertation (Mindomo – dissertation mind map) when looking at the relationship of the artist and the audience as a whole.

As previously mentioned sociology/ philosophy and museum analysis of the relationship of the artist and audience will form the base structure for my dissertation. So far the following books and articles have been of significant interest are:

Although I have managed to collect together a variety of resources that are mentioned in more detail within the dissertation proposal. With the sources I was also able to find alternative opinions that will help me to write a balanced dissertation, which plans to collect together debates on the relationship of the artist and audience and hopefully bring a new perspective to the discussion.

The plan now is to continue developing my understanding of the subject that I have chosen to write on in order to be able to critically analyse my own, and others opinions on the increased inclusion of the audience on the creative process and how this might affect the relationship with the artist. I then need to section discussions into a structured format that allows for a coherent dissertation. I have already begun to notice that there are subtopics to consider in order to contextualise the dissertation better, but want to avoid simply summarising others ideas as I have found some books have done when faced with such a vast topic. I am aware that this dissertation has the potential to develop my own work, with a better understanding of one’s audience it is easier to express ideas with a more successful reception, as well as understanding that better the balance between including and excluding the audience so as to create the most intellectually stimulating experience for the audience. Ultimately this dissertation hopes to show how the art world must be adaptive; and with a fast paced technology engrossed society maybe participatory art is the next development in the relationship of artist and audience in an attempt to regain the attentions of the, arguably, distracted society.

Word count: 1001


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Published by

Jessy Plant

A Brighton born artist, now studying a Fine Art Degree at Cardiff Met Uni.

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