If / Then : measuring matter through metaphor : a poetic exploration of science

Coleman, Ruann (2015-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis investigates physical and philosophical measurement within the context of a Masters Degree in Visual Arts. By unpacking concepts within science through a philosophical approach to material, this study underscores and investigates questions of certainty and the unknown. This entails the examination of associated terms like ‘accuracy’ and ‘result,’ where such results are expressed and arrived at through chance and temperament rather than mathematical equations or formulas. Using the example of a Universal Conditional Statement, specifically (x)(Px⊃Qx), this physical / philosophical methodology will be applied to a practice-led artistic research. The given Statement simply denotes that what is on both the left and right of the symbol “⊃” are interchangeable, subject to the condition of “if… then”. This symbol is one that encapsulates and encompasses this document, which seeks to explore the relation between ‘if’ and ‘then’, as well as the known and unknown. Towards this end, and to understand, connect and manipulate through the measuring of material, aspects such as ‘Facts’, ‘Laws’ and ‘Quasiserial Arrangements’ are investigated. In addition, through the study of a physical measuring tool, the metre, and the history of the metric system, this thesis also tracks and discloses information regarding the quest for accuracy, demonstrating how this ever-evolving objective goes hand in hand with inaccuracy, something especially apparent in the calculation of the immeasurable and the unknown. Part of this focus looks at Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, which reveals the hybrid and extravagant behaviour of material and also affirms that the result of an experiment is only as accurate as the domain in which it is set. Concepts such as fact, uncertainty and material exploration are used by the artist in the creative process to test, measure and influence material. In this creative process, the body is sited as subject, as one that not only measures, but is measured against. When the body is added to a set of conditions, aimed to question material behaviour, the results prove unpredictable. Though material exploration and the appropriation of measuring through metaphor, the haptic and the tactile provides access and act as placeholders for the moments where material behaves in ways we cannot predict.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Vir die studie tot ’n Meestersgraad in Visuele kunste, ondersoek hierdie tesis die fisiese en filosofiese aspekte van meetbaarheid as konsep. Die studie is geposisioneer binne ‘n wetenskaplike filosofiese benadering tot materiaal. Binne hierdie raamwerk word oomblikke van ‘sekerheid’ beproef en die onbekende word geopenbaar. Dus, terme soos ‘akkuraatheid’ en ‘resultate’ word bevraagteken en getoets, asook hoe hierdie inligting geproduseer word deur oomblikke van ‘kans’ en ‘temperament’, eerder as wiskundige vergelykings of formules. As ‘n methode vir artististiese navorsing word daar gebruik gemaak van ’n voorbeeld van ‘n universele voorwaardelike verklaring soos; (x)(Px⊃Qx), wat dan dien as ‘n metafoor vir fisiese asook filosofiese kwessies vir meetbaarheid. Die gegewe stelling dui aan dat wat aan beide links en regs van die symbool ⊃ is, kan as verwissellende gegewes beskou word - onderhewig aan ‘n voorwaarde soos; ‘as … dan’. Hierdie simbool som hierdie navorsing op en mik om die verhouding tussen die ‘as’ en ‘dan’ te verken, asook die verhouding tussen dit wat bekend en wat onbekend is. Om materiaal te verken, deur die proses van meet en manipulasie, word aspekte soos ‘feite’, ‘wette’ en “quasiserial arrangements” ondersoek. Deur die bestudering van ‘n fisiese meetinstrument, naamlik die metre, asook die geskiedenis van die metrieke stelsel, wys hierdie tesis op die voortdurende soeke na meetbare akkuraatheid. Wat dit demonstreer, is hoe hierdie fisiese instrument ‘n ewig-veranderende aspek saamdra, en is daarvolgens gekoppel aan onakkuraatheid. Dus, hierdie inligting word slegs weerpeel deur middel van - en is akkurraat volgens en is die instumente wat beskikbaar is. Die instrument bepaal die resultaat. Deel van hierdie ondersoek verwys ook terug na Werner Heisenberg se ‘onsekerheidsbeginsel’ wat die onbekende en buitensporige gedrag van materiaal tentoonstel, asook hoe dit bevestig dat die uitslag van ‘n eksperiment sleg akkuraat is binne die konteks van die domein waarin dit afspeel. Konsepte soos ‘feite’, ‘onsekerheid’ en ‘materiaal verkenning’ word voortdurend deur die kunstenaar in sy kreatiewe proses getoets. Dit is juis in hierdie proses waar die meet en invloed van material ‘n groot rol speel. Die kunstenaar benader die liggaam as ’n onderwerp wat meet en waarteen gemeet word. Wanneer die liggaam saam met ‘n stel voorwaardes gevoeg word, word die gedrag van dit wat ondersoek word onbepaalbaar en word die onvoorspelbaarheid van material beklemtoon. Deur die aanwending van meet deur metafoor, vir die doeleinde vir ‘materiaal verkenning’, word die haptiese en die tasbare toegang tot material plekhouers vir die oomblikke waar materiaal onvoorspelbaar kan optree.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97103
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