Acts of Observation: Drawing time from nature

Angela Dawes
2015 Conference

Is our sense of what time is, connected in any way to our place in the natural world? Temporality is a concern of contemporary art practice where artists consider a wide range of expressions of the nature, effects and immersive qualities of measured and experiential time. Can a study of a site in the natural world assist in deepening this practice and our awareness of the natural world? The site is a lotus pond, where seasonal time and the relative qualities of time, space, gravity and light are evident. In nature study, observation is used as the traditional method to understand the natural world. Here, observation incorporates duration with documentation, reflection and perception. Combined with an experiential awareness, it becomes a method of discovery, an act of paying attention to phenomena. With the rise of interest in the natural world from the eighteenth century, acts of observation showed that issues of reason and authority entangled with visual innovations and figuration, all in the aim of mimesis. The phenomena of the lotus pond and its documentation move beyond the empirical and mimetic as they are deterritorialised and reterritorialised in the studio. Research, a process of investigation and compilation common across academic domains, becomes more than an empirical process. In this work in progress, research is being transformed as subject and object. A sense of phenomenological hermeneutics comes into play. Drawing brings lines of speculation and allusion to elucidate and render shifting understandings of temporality.

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About the author

Angela Dawes is a masters candidate at the School of Art, Architecture and Design, University of South Australia with a practice in drawing, photography and installation. Her studio-based research project, Acts of Observation, focuses on depictions of temporality in nature and the qualities of continuous change. It considers meanings of time in physics and zen Buddhist philosophy with divergences into Deleuze, Bergson, haiku and writings on drawing.