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



This thesis document explores the influences and content of visual artist Jessie Shinn’s work, in particular the photography she has done as part of her Master of Fine Arts degree program at Washington University in St. Louis. Ideas discussed include phenomenology, phenomenophilia, affect, defamiliarization, the everyday, space, emptiness and boredom. Important artists and movements mentioned are Caspar David Friedrich, J.M.W. Turner and Romanticism; Alfred Stieglitz and Modernism; and contemporary artists Hiroshi Sugimoto, Uta Barth and Wolfgang Tillmans. Writers and philosophers Samuel Coleridge, Rainer Maria Rilke, Rei Terada, Kathleen Stewart, David Markson, David Foster Wallace, Jacques Derrida and Gilles Deleuze are also discussed.


English (en)

Program Director

Patricia Olynyk

Program Director's Department

Graduate School of Art

Committee Member

Jamie Adams

Committee Member

Jamie Adams

Committee Member

John Sarra

Committee Member

Heather Bennett

Committee Member

Jessica Baran

Artist's Statement

Sometimes categories and preconceptions break down, revealing the world as other. My work explores the emotive quality of these moments and the charge of things both hidden and revealed. My most recent photographs, Phenomenophilia, record fleeting visual experiences that do not have fixed meaning due to their transience and mutability. The resulting images border on abstraction and are often blurred by movement or low light. They investigate how light, darkness, reflection, color, line and shape create presence within the overlooked, ephemeral and ordinary.

Events or images that don't fit a conventional narrative frame may still have a resonance, not necessarily an effect, but an affect. They may touch, move, or infect; They may manifest a feeling, disposition or tendency.

I am influenced by Merleau-Ponty's interpretation of phenomenology, Deleuze's notion of transcendental empiricism, and by both philosophers' emphasis on direct first person experience. I am interested in Derrida's “différance,” a nebulous conflation of difference and deference. This quality, which he claims makes presence possible while at the same time making it differ from itself, is the “becoming-space of time or the becoming-time of space.” This is what I am making pictures of, about and for. Searching for precise words to describe fluid ideas always leads to a kind of failure, no matter how close the language of philosophy comes. I make images to access that space where my knowledge and language fail.

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