The splendour of the insignificant: An investigation of sacred and mundane landscapes and the alchemy of light
AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractTHE SPLENDOUR OF THE INSIGNIFICANT This study aims to contextualise my own photographic practice in relation to the interaction between mundane and sacred landscapes and the role that the transformative alchemy of light has on our perception of the ordinary. Reference will be made to the development of the genre of landscape photography, with particular reference to the selective aesthetic of pristine Wilderness, as embodied in the work of Ansel Adams, through the ‘man-altered’ landscapes of the New Topographics and Mark Klett’s rephotographic project, to discuss an aesthetic of the everyday. Reference will also be made to the benefits to health and wellbeing that can be achieved as a result of engaging in a state of mindfulness (Crane), also known as optimal experience or flow (Csikszentmihalyi) through photographic practice. Rather than narrowing the focus of the study by excluding relevant information to make the research less complex, the thesis comprises information from a diverse range of disciplines encompassing both the more obviously creative subjects of photography, aesthetics and poetry and areas such as health care. Given the parameters of the PhD process in relation to the breadth of the research undertaken, the specific study of each diverse element is, of necessity, not as detailed as it may have been had a single, more specifically defined, area of research been the entire focus of the research. The inclusive nature of the research presented in this thesis offers unique insights by providing direct comparisons and establishing new relationships between the theoretical and methodological approaches of a range of differing disciplines. While a written thesis forms part of the dissemination of the research findings the images that have emerged as a result of engagement with the study will be exhibited as an integral element of the outcome. The images that have been created as a result of the research process will take their place as objects within the world, offering viewers potential new ways of perceiving and experiencing what Rancière refers to as the ‘splendour of the insignificant’ within the landscape of their own everyday lives.
CitationWhite, R. (2017) 'The splendour of the insignificant: An investigation of sacred and mundane landscapes and the alchemy of light', PhD Thesis, University of Derby
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