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Narrativisation of site and spatialisation of narrative

Kwon, H. (2018) Narrativisation of site and spatialisation of narrative. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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This dissertation is a practice-based research project and consists of four video works (Eight Men Lived in the Room - News (2010), Eight Men Lived in the Room - Filmset (2011), The Life of a Comedian (2012), Memory Museum - Guro (2016)), an introduction with a contextualization and methodology of the field and four essays. As the title Narrativisation of Site and Spatialisation of Narrative suggests, my subject matter and my research methodology are inseparable from each other and are also in an inter-reflexive relationship. In order to find out how sites are narrativised, I experimented with spatial structures in narrative. To investigate how narratives can be constructed by spatial forms, I specifically selected a few sites as the subjects of my narrative. How do the spatial forms and elements of the particular sites function as the subject, formal elements or formal constitutive principles in narrative? This question has developed into an exploration of the spatial perspective of narrative structures and its possibilities. The places chosen in my research are places which have now been forgotten and have disappeared from the archives, where individual memories and collective memories intersect, and current places associated with them are unrecorded. These places were the actual places that were chosen to experiment with as many forms of narrative as possible, and these places contained different narrative forms and current situations which exist somewhere between memory and oblivion. This research was to find alternatives to the problems in narration through analysing the places associated with past memories. The existing narratives based on the cultural forms – archive videos, photos, memorials, performances and so on – were still limited to incorporate contemporary temporality and diverse memories of the past. The linear narrative form has limitations in the specification of the memories that were experienced beyond the temporal boundaries. I thought that the introduction of spatial elements and composition to the narrative form relating to past memories might provide an alternative direction to these limitations. Thus, I analysed examples of contemporary artwork that have been converted into spatial experiences, not as a way of separating the boundaries of time, but retaining the characteristics of temporal art, such as video and performance. While collecting existing narratives about these sites and conducting critical research on the contents and structures of these narratives, I came to recognise the problem of how the stories are constructed. These narratives are time-oriented (for example, chronologically arranged), unilinear, and dramatised in the format of introduction, development, turn and conclusion. When it comes to narrativising stories of others, those forms allow audiences or visitors to withdraw themselves from considering their own ethical relationship to the stories or to feel ambivalent towards them. This is connected to the conventional narrative structure, which ultimately leads itself to a time-oriented narrative, and I began to ask what would be an alternative form that goes against the temporal and causal conventions of narrative. In search of such form, I wanted to build narratives about the particular sites mentioned above and while doing so, to experiment with the spatial structure in the stories. In this dissertation, the methodological parts of the essays play three different roles. First, the essays present what I discovered and what I conducted during the work process. The texts function as a space to which I transferred all the ‘things’ that I collected and organised from the beginning to the end of the production as well as post-completion of the work. They include both tangible and intangible materials. The function of my texts can be compared to that of ‘the cabinet of curiosity’. The texts are close studies and contemplation on the elements collected, and they also present these elements taken out of their original contexts and enter them into the realm of artmaking. Second, the texts reorganise the materials into meaningful experiences. They show how the ideas and questions that I had during my ‘collecting’ process can turn into a more concrete and relevant outcome. Third, the texts are instructions for my future artistic production as well as scores for my future performance. They would serve as a starting point for the questions or experimentations that would come after the completion of the artworks. Using these methods, my dissertation also discusses the issue of simplification or unity in narratives dealing with the past, the impossibility of representing the past and historical reality, audiences’ position as strangers, and the cultural locating of narrative along the existing issues in contemporary documentary and video art that deal with the past. My writing is a critical review of these issues and perceives them as a point of departure for finding alternatives.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:
Thesis/Report Department:School of Arts and Communication Design
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Art
ID Code:84411
Additional Information:See related URL for associated works.


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