MA Project proposal 1.5

I have been looking again at all of the key themes and contexts which have been in the four drafts of my proposal so far. I want, for version 1.5, to create something which pulls out these main threads into something core which runs through them and which encapsulates what has been underneath what I have been making towards the end of term.

As a way of summarising what has come before, in order to make sense of where I am going, this is the key question from each version of my proposal so far:

  • v1.0: How an individual’s cultural psychology (mythologies, rituals, superstitions) affect the way they view and interact with objects
  • v1.1: Ritual as the language of identify and cultural cohesion – exploring how we experience ritual behaviours and ritual processes as a way of defining our cultural identities; how the process of making itself can be a ritual process
  • v1.2: Liminality – exploring the liminal state as part of how we experience transformation and transition
  • v1.3: Seen / Unseen: Translating the search for meaning in one’s life into objects which encourage the user to do the same. How through the journey of reflection, contemplation and revelation, can society reconcile mankind’s search for meaning with life in the modern age
  • v1.4: Seen / Unseen, the search for the ghost in the machine – what can the interplay of light, shadow and space represent about the nature of reality; or visual perception of what we believe to be reality filtered through the inner world within our minds?

This feels like an orbit of ideas, flying around a central point I can’t quite identify or picture yet. I don’t think any of my research questions have been quite right yet – but you can definitely see the progression of ideas in the making, and hopefully in the words too. I redrew a quick mind map to sketch out the core ideas and see how they all fit together

Photo 25-11-2014 14 58 51The way that I see it – humans have since time untold, had the desire (need?) to try to explain the world around them and the fundamentals of their existence on the planet on which we find ourselves. In early history, storytelling was used to describe how the world was created, how the world works and the eternal cycles of life, death, rebirth and the human emotions of love, loss and betrayal. These themes are repeated the world over in every civilisation on the globe both past and present: through myths, legends, religions and shared stories. In modern history, over the last few centuries, we have slowly evolved from our descriptions of the world through god and goddess, to a language of mathematics and science – looking outward to the farthest reaches of the cosmos and inward to the smallest particle of matter we can identify, and beyond.

Both of these however are just different ways of addressing the same human need, that of interpreting the nature of reality. No matter who you are, within each human is the same desire to know man’s place in the universe. This is played out differently in every person – some as deep thinkers and philosophers, and others who just silently question truth at occasional times throughout their lives. Our societies have used the languages of mythology, magic and mathematics to both interpret and try to manipulate what we observe of the world. These languages collide / coincide as we look forward into the future and wonder what we will see there. I think this dichotomy in some form exists in all of us as we balance our traditions, cultural heritage and history with the ever-moving, modern, technological age; whether or not people still tell their children tales of old gods or fairies roaming in the hills, or follow any of the worlds theistic religions, or nature-based religions or anything else.

How do we find sacred space in the never-sleeping city?

I haven’t quite got my finger on my question yet, but I think my aim is as follows: The subject of my research is to explore how we, as humans, try to interpret and manipulate the nature of reality. I will conduct this exploration by considering the boundaries between layers of reality, considering our physical reality (the fundamental, inherent nature of the world and the wider universe), and our cultural reality (our understanding of how things are through stories, myth and superstition) and our inner reality (our perception of truth filtered through our own mind). Objects can be used as levers to interpret, understand or to manipulate the nature of things; they exist between these different realities – the physicality / materiality of the object and our perception of it which differs between people and through interaction with the object. These boundaries intersect upon the object – 1) the object space existing within and around the object, 2) the inner space of the user interacting with the object and 3) the space beyond.

As a final word for now, a quote to capture the mood from Norman Maclean:

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters

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