Haptic Aurality and the Queering of Memory: Subversive Methods in Audio-Visual Practice.
University of the Arts, London
Supervisors: Professor Catherine Elwes and Professor Angus Carlyle
This practice-based research is concerned with the relationship between sound, memory and various notions of landscape (social, political, cultural, as well as natural and urban) in artists’ moving-image work. Utilising a mixed methodology that combines phenomenology, feminist, cultural and queer theory, as well as recent theoretical work in the fields of sound and memory studies, the research attends to the work of John Akomfrah, Clio Barnard and Patrick Keiller. These artists create affective representations of landscape, informing our understanding of the world and our impact on it. What they also have in common is their unconventional use of sound.
The aim is to define and develop a theory of ‘Haptic Aurality’, in line with Laura U. Marks’ definition of ‘Haptic Visuality’ in which the eyes feel an image. By prioritising listening and drawing on recent work around memory studies and philosophy of sound perception, the research investigates how sound might engage different sense memories in the audience. Examining the work of Akomfrah, Barnard and Keiller in these terms, further develops the theory to encompass the aesthetic framing of artists’ practice in both cinematic and gallery-based contexts.
Through an ongoing series of audiovisual experiments, both the practice and the research engages with different ‘historical’ and mythological narratives that have previously been presented through a white, heteronormative, patriarchal lens and attempts to subvert them through a 'Queering of Memory’. This is framed within the context of established Queer Theory which argues the necessity, for those who have been oppressed and represented unfairly by history, to engage critically with it.