At the centre of what I have enjoyed for most of my life is as a creative, a teacher and the mixed and decadent world of the artist, the aesthete. When I see things, hear things, smell things, touch things I gain memory from the experience, not simply a reaction as some might without memory. Those experiences I’ve conveniently always thought of as attributes forming my own ‘self’, my own personality, not operating alone though rather individual as a member of a community and part of a greater society.
I don’t act alone in a cave of my own making. I am a social beast and I value social connection, crave for them. Feedback from others suggests that I’m also a creative inquirer, inquisitor, salivating over facts and figures, forms and features that others morbidly describe as ‘structure’ to life.
In essence though, prior to the postgraduate research experience I considered my life was confined by moral society, ethically bound within the constraints of law and a perverse social order. Society for me prior to commencing the PhD had been a massive beast of oversight and undersight, a soup of judgemental and biased morals, imbued with capitalist values and norms which I repeatedly found myself working away from, an outsider at times, the recalcitrant and questioning soul.
As an artist, painter I’d spend long hours focussed on the perfect canvas only to find myself frozen before the palette in a city centre studio with the cacophony of the street and the olfactory gold of the soup kitchens more alluring than the rigour of the palette. In that space I discovered as an early career researcher that my lifeworld and the experiential accounts I held in my role as artist to be suffocating and that caused me to break away from one form of expression to the next, never satisfied with remaining ‘too comfortable’.
From the world of environmental installation art to printmaking, ceramics through to audiophonics with radical noise artists from around the globe, my trip and journey as novice researcher, artist began with breaking things down, apart and eventually in pieces I discovered the relational world of aesthetics and the powerful role of the public. That power play between myself as the creator and that of the consumer seemed to me to be the end and yet the beginning to what constitutes commercial art creation. My first naive papers written in art school to meet the needs of a tightly orchestrated curriculum as undergraduate have neatly dovetailed with where I find myself now, thesis deep, brain splayed, tears and coffee stained late nights.
It was in that position of contemplating power, the playoff between one actor and another, the formation of groups around value, that I discovered my own self as a participant. Within that space, that interactive engagement, power becomes a central theme to all that unfolds in the realm of research because we must first in some way picture ourselves out of that physical realm and to do so that means we need to have the capacity, the capability, the foresight to be in the position of oversight, to be above that which we are the actor within, simultaneously at times.
For instance, as the creative brings a form before an audience whose critical connection is to in some way to reflect back an aesthetic rank for the artist whether that be in monetary value, feedback, rebuke, disdain, ignorance or other, then a state of omniscient self exists with which the creative fights and claws their place in the greed rich world of the artist stable. The artist hovers in a state away from the scene unfolding before them, aloof one might think to the customer, consumer, audience, public but in reality, alive and contemplative.