The quarry : an exegesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of PhD Fine Arts at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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This creative practice research proposes a fictional archaeology as a conceptually and methodologically distinct mode of inquiry into the traces of human engagement with the material world, and as an exploration of alternative, non-linear notions of temporality. The research is situated within a contemporary context, one characterised by its heavily mediated environment and associated shifting experiences of materiality, space and temporality, which linear, chronological narratives seem increasingly inadequate to capture. An archaeological imagination, following Michael Shanks, captures a ‘sensibility’ towards material traces, that is applicable across disciplines. It becomes articulated in this research through a material encounter based on physical proximity and a spatial articulation of time.¹ Fictionality, besides indicating the shift of archaeology into art practice, situates this inquiry within a fictional realm, in distinction from other projects anchored in actual archaeological objects and sites. Fictionality further designates an affinity with narrative, as a meaning-making connectivity, which this research explores in non-linear ways, through an emphasis on transformations of material traces. This affinity becomes also articulated through a conversation with Max Frisch’s novel Man in the Holocene (1979), and interspersed biographical notes, that accompany this research, and which tether the fictional and abstract character of the project to the particularity of individual narratives. The structural configuration of the exegesis is aligned with the processual, interweaving unfolding of the creative practice. The project sets out to construct traces referencing architectural remnants, artefacts, inscriptions and fossils, through art processes that employ found materials, model assemblages and spray-painting, combined with photography, video and animation. The research employs a mode of material thinking, which indicates a practical and conceptual development based in processuality, and a direct engagement with materials. Transformational processes form the methodological centre of this project; initiated through material thinking, they are the main strategy by which a non-linear temporal journey of material traces is articulated in the practical work. These transformations generate pathways across media and dimensions resulting in a suite of art works with different material states, that are indexically linked, but resist direct, linear comparability—they are instead suggestive of a connectivity beyond chronological sequentiality. A selection of material outcomes of this research has been presented in an installation titled The Quarry, at Toi Pōneke Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand, which is also discussed in this document. ¹Michael Shanks, The Archaeological Imagination (Walnut Creek, Calif: Left Coast Press, 2012).
Listed in 2019 Dean's List of Exceptional Theses
All Figures are re-used with permission.
Process art, Time and art, Archaeology and art, Material culture, Social aspects, Psychological aspects, Bauer, Susanna, Exhibitions, Frisch, Max, Man in the Holocene, Dean's List of Exceptional Theses