Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2014

Author's School

Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

Author Department/Program

Graduate School of Art

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Visual Art

Degree Type

Thesis

Abstract

The human condition is constituted by the fluctuating operations of desire and fantasy, which emerge in response to one's fundamental differentiation between 'Self' and 'Other.' As infants, we exist in an expansive realm of sensational “sameness” with the world around us; but as we develop, we quickly learn to differentiate between our internal and external worlds, and are forced to divide and organize our once primordial experience of unity on the basis of isolated exclusion of difference. As we slip into the structures of our social and cultural reality, we absorb language, and are taught to construct our own identities by alienating the Otherness felt within our inner selves. Through repeated reinforcement of this alienation, we arrive at a sense of Self that is separate and distant from our notion of the Other.

But in our differentiated state, we cannot help but feel that something is missing within our innermost beings; we now contain a certain void, a “lack,” borne from our developmental separation from the Other. French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan asserts that this lack, which we come to realize is unfulfillable, constitutes the human condition of desire. Lacan asserts that “Man's desire is a desire for the Other,” contending that the “goal” of one's desire is to return to a primordial re-conflation between the Self and the Other. In unbearable agony, we pointlessly search for substitutions for our lost Other, but are only able to satisfy this incessant condition of desire through the temporary immersion into a projection of fantasy.

Through fantasy, we find relief from our desires, and are able to experience a pleasure in their satisfaction; but furthermore, fantasy grants us access into a realm where the Self and the Other are able to merge, integrate and reassemble their relationship. Through fantasy, one may deny the rigid oppression that our social reality imposes upon our subjective identities. For this reason, fantasy itself contains the potential for the transgressive reconstitution of both identity and culture.

Through this thesis, I will examine the complementary operations of desire and fantasy, and their combined effects on our everyday experience of reality. By considering Jacques Lacan's theories of psychological and psychosexual development, this thesis will uncover just where our desires come from, what shapes them, and how fantasy is formed in response to their enigmatic qualities. In addition, this thesis will explore just what happens when desire and fantasy are ever-so-slightly slipped apart – when the vibrating wavelengths of human experience become warped within an “intermediary zone” between the Imaginary and Symbolic Orders of Being. This intermediary zone, when traversed with the tools of creative expression and artistic activity, contains the rich and exciting potential for a radical renegotiation of the terms that define one's Self as separate from the Other.

Lastly, this thesis inspects the functions of desire and fantasy from a distinctly feminist perspective, questioning the repressive effects of society, culture and language, on the articulation of female subjectivity.

Language

English (en)

Program Director

Patricia Olynyk

Program Director's Department

Graduate School of Art

Committee Member

John Sarra

Committee Member

John Sarra

Committee Member

Angela Malchiono

Committee Member

Arny Nadler

Artist's Statement

My work investigates the liminal, intermediary zones of human experience that exist at the thresholds between our perception of reality and our subconscious. I create surrealistic scenarios that I refer to as “mindscapes,” which present vivid, microcosmic visions of the inner theaters of our psychological worlds. My work is heavily influenced by early scientific illustration and 'Cabinets of Curiosity, which sought to convey a vision of the marvelous diversity found within unfamiliar, “exotic” lands.. Through a similar visual language, my work reveals the strange and curious inner-workings of the human condition, examining the fluctuating operations of human desire, wonder and fantasy. Within my mindscapes, fragments of memory, dreams, and the residues of formative experience intermingle with mythology; boundaries dissolve between human and animal, perspective and space, and we arrive at an environment where the Self is undifferentiated from the Other.

My artistic process derives from an intuitive method of experimental creation. In my drawings, I seek to create visual tension through the fluctuation between automatic and intended mark-making, between realism and expression, collage and drawing, and building up and scraping away. By means of this alternation, I experience my artistic production as an act of creative play. Although my images may find their ultimate forms in a variety of different media, through works on paper, diorama, film or sculptural masks, I seek to maintain a convulsive spontaneity in the active journey of their creation.

Permanent URL:10.7936/K74Q7RW4

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Catalog of Images