In the flesh of sensibility : unravelling incompleteness with art

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Doctoral thesis (monograph) | Defence date: 2017-02-17
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Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS, 11/2017
In recent years, there has been considerable interest in studying creativity, and the wealth of studies and guidebooks on this notion indicate its importance in people’s everyday and professional life. However, less attention has been paid to the subject matters of both sensibility and incompleteness, their ontological nature, their interrelatedness and their impact on creativity. Thus the mechanism of experiencing incompleteness and, what is more, the dynamics of sensibility, has remained unclear. The present research aims at filling this lacuna. Sensibility is the key faculty in examining and depicting on creativity. The aim of this dissertation is twofold: first, to examine and specify how the experience of incompleteness in creating manifests itself and how it amounts to creativity; and, second, to define the agency of sensibility as identifying the presence of incompleteness and to explore how sensibility is taken into account in creative making as a corporeal readiness, attentiveness, a postural attitude and anticipation. The animated body of the maker as well as action are in focus throughout this research; attention is also paid to the dynamic interaction between experience, matter and movement in all expression and making. The dichotomies between the subject and the object, between the body and the mind, have been mused on, questioned and ruminated upon. The main method adopted in this dissertation is artistic research. In addition, the phenomenology of the body and research of experience are used to provide a critical juxtaposition. This dissertation introduces and identifies artistic research as a valid method and emphasizes experience-based standpoints as a research strategy. Artistic research is understood as a complex of making and researching that inexorably affect each other. The research was conducted and data collected during the making of artworks for three exhibitions between 2011–2015. The author’s diaries from that period are used as research material. The results of this study show that even though the experience of incompleteness withdraws from our rational grasp for control, understanding, and certainty, it is lived through bodily experience and directed by the faculty of sensibility. Incompleteness refers to carnal knowledge that the practitioners can recognize to be their own and that is based on their genuine experience gained by sensibility. The organic and relational nature of incompleteness as a useful and valuable phenomenon keeps the creative work in flux. This dissertation contributes to a better understanding of both incompleteness and sensibility, as well as of their roles in creating. This dissertation opens a vast and largely unresearched field of sensibility. In order to understand creativity, the present study argues that incompleteness needs to be detached from the contexts of understanding and reasoning. Instead, the outcome of this research emphasizes the need for both considering incompleteness from the viewpoint of sensibility and as a positive creativity-enhancing factor.
artistic research, incompleteness, sensibility, affect, experience, body, emotion, matter, appearing
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