9th March 2017 – Project Proposal Re-Write

Project Proposal – WIP

1. Working Title
Manifestations of (sub)consciousness: exploring and critiquing the premises of conscious and subconscious human behaviours through ceramic object design.

2. Aims + Objectives
My subject concerns the overlaps and conflicts of the conscious and subconscious minds, and how these can affect the creation and perception of objects.  I aim to explore and express different states of consciousness, overlaps and schisms, through visual language, particularly referencing various theories of human behaviour and psychoanalysis.  These contexts will underpin the choices (or lack of choice) in object design, with both functional and non-functional objects, with the decisions of the maker being responded to by a beholder.

The main objective of my practice is to create objects which try and cause a ‘conflict of consciousness’ in a beholder.  These objects may be sculptural, non-functional and unfamiliar forms, or they may be functional and familiar.  I aim to provoke confusion in a beholder, where they perhaps unable to ascertain why they feel a certain way about an object (“I like it but I can’t say why”, for example).  I also want to cause a conflict within a beholder, between their rational and irrational mindsets, as determined by their (sub)consciousness, whereby they are forced with mixed emotions of recoil and attraction, intrigue and disgust, enjoyment and frustration.

3. Context [Including Historical, Contemporary and Theoretical Contexts]
At the core of my investigation lies various theories concerning the varying levels of consciousness of the human mind, and how they impact human behaviours.  These are namely influenced by the works of Freud, Jung, Malsow and Frankl.  Their various explorations into the different influences on a persons’ mind (biological, historical, cultural, societal, etc.), serve as my core theoretical contexts.

Regarding visual contexts, I have found it both necessary and highly influential to look at a wide range of primitive hand-sculpted objects, from a range of cultures and historical times.  The aims of these endeavours are to identify hallmarks of visual language which were created while humankind were more concerned with their animalistic nature, rather than actions as influenced by modern societal and cultural biases.  In turn, these visual references link-in with the works of Freud, regarding the Id/Ego/Super-Ego theories, whereby the Id is dominated by thoughts pertaining to animalistic tendencies (instant gratification, feeding, reproduction), yet the Id is often dominated by the Ego, which provides moral and societal law as a framework for rationalist and preferred behaviour.

The works of contemporary ceramic sculptor David Hicks particularly interests me within my field of enquiry; while his work centres around ceramic forms, which are non-functional art pieces and installations, the visual language employed to his forms references primitive ritualistic forms based in nature. The importance of narrative within his work is also influential; while each ceramic element can be judged and beheld individually, their context becomes suggested only when they are all assembled. The interrelationship between each form as a cluster connotes human responses to nature in a way that it echoes the same raw responses humans have had throughout the vastness of time.


Other contemporary practitioners of relevance are Ken Price (amorphology), Alisdair Duncan (visual language of psychological phenomena) and Dale Chihuly (animal/mineral).

  1. Methodology
    The general process I will apply to my investigation will be to initially explore ceramic crafts of non-functional objects from defined eras of ‘primitive’ human culture, and contextualise these against Freudian theory of the Id (animalistic, instant gratification, pre-moral). Once some form of link is made, I will analyse, reappropriate and craft non-functional ceramic forms which isolate the primitive visual language, in order to present these as texture/form samples to a contemporary audience (who in general would have their Id suppressed). From there the responses and feedback of beholder of these forms (‘tactiforms’) would be recorded, results will be collated and significant areas would be then highlighted and applied to further practical experimentation.


Secondly, a period of applying, pushing and subverting the significances of the responses to the tactiforms to other ‘more functional’ forms, or forms which are indicative of common uses….

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