Viva voce exhibition (PhD)

Palin, Tom ORCID logoORCID: (2018) Viva voce exhibition (PhD). [Show/Exhibition]


My viva voce examination was held at the Royal College of Art, 11th April 2018, in the Sackler Building, Battersea. The examination panel consisted of Mick Finch (Central St Martins) and Dr Craig Staff (University of Northampton). Professor Graeme Brooker (RCA) chaired proceedings, with my supervisor, John Slyce, also in attendance. My project addressed how a reduction of painting to linguistic schemas serves to render the material object of painting redundant. The conception of painting as image – free of material baggage and operable through language alone – acts to disguise the temporal nature of the manner by which a painting is constructed. A painting’s surface is built incrementally and, in its stillness, offers clues to what it has been—perhaps the only clues to what it, in fact, is. I addressed in two ways. First, through a body of studio practice I sought to demonstrate the indispensability of spatiotemporal concerns in respect of the processes and object of painting. My painting is reliant on responsiveness to methods of making, and I was keen to foreground the image’s construction, staging it as an imbrication of language and material in time. Secondly, through a phenomenological consideration of both the practice and object of painting, I re-examined the notion of medium specificity. The retreat from medium specificity, in the 1970s – a move largely made in opposition to the hegemonic force of Greenbergian formalism and the expanded field ushered in by studio practices, as well as an embrace of the text (promoted through theory) – dislocated image from that from which the image is constituted. The context for this work, then, is the realm in which painting’s ontological status is questioned—targeting the nodal point where there is recourse to consider the extent to which the meaning of a painted object is dependent on the particularity of its material and temporal conditions.

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