The Material Forms of Memory: A creative arts praxis examining family archive materiality and the performance of memory through installation art
Emily M. M. Hornum
This Master of Arts by Research investigates the role of new media in influencing familyarchive materiality and what effect this has on the performance of memory. The aim is to examine through creative arts praxis how installation art illuminates the participatory engagement of family archive materiality to mediate our mnemonic processes. The source materials for this project stem from my family archives dating from the early 1900s to 2013, and include photographs, 35mm slides, VHS tapes, audiotapes and personal items. The significance of this research lies in the creative outcomes that have occurred through the investigative and critical dialogues between artistic practices and theoretical discourses explored through exegetical writing. This hybrid approach to creative arts research allows for the negotiation of dialogues between myself as: researcher, creative practitioner and the subjective experiences that inform my art making practices (Barrett & Bolt, 2007; Gray, 1996).
The installations that comprise this arts-based research reveal the participatory bodily engagement evoked from family archives across a range of media and how the materiality of theses archives influence our memories associated with family. A series of installations emerged, including—video works, photo-media sculptures created from over 3000 35mm slides, projections, new media, photography and audio. This exegesis draws parallels between relevant theoretical discourses, the work of visual artists Tacita Dean and Kutluğ Ataman, and my creative outcomes over the course of this candidature— spanning both studio experimentation and exhibited work. Creative outcomes of this research were exhibited over the course of my candidature, these exhibitions are— Becomings (2014); The Substance of Memory (2015) and the final exhibition Object Data Memory (2015).
A reflexive studio inquiry spanning work-in-progress and exhibitions have fundamentally expounded the creative outcomes of this research. Central to this research is to investigate how new media has influenced the traditional role of the family archive. This exegesis aims to elucidate how a creative arts praxis integrating a multi-method research approach, in conjunction with reflexivity, has manifested a series of interactive and immersive installations that illuminate our bodily engagement with family archive materiality and what affect this has on the performance of memory.
Tsok Wee Yap
This Masters of Arts by research examined contemporary notions of opera in the genesis and production of an original short film through the composer as bricoleur. This research into the area of film, music, and composition, was motivated by a desire to resolve the conflict between the conventions of opera and cinema in presenting contemporary opera as film. In realising the short film, this research examined both cinematic and operatic conventions, with particular focus on the operatic voice, verisimilitude, and the suspension of disbelief as fundamental challenges and conflicts related to unifying opera and film. The adaptations and ideas generated in resolving this conflict came from a practice-‐led research methodology that encompassed the notion of the composer working as a bricoleur.
Working as a composer-‐bricoleur, my identity and role throughout the course of the research had to evolve and adapt to challenges as the project emerged. In this role, I was an author, scrap-‐booker, composer, scriptwriter, director, musician, researcher, audience member and collaborator. Through bricolage, I was able to piece the research and project together, engaging in strategies that included literature and multimedia review; classes in scriptwriting, acting and producing; online blogging; practice trials; resonance meetings; and conscious and unconscious observation. The integration of these strategies and practices led to the creation of the short film Out of Sight | Out of Mind, a social and interpersonal story about a girl and her father, and an accompanying exegesis.
Through this research, the conventions of opera and cinema were revealed to be disparate to and unaccommodating of each other. This was resolved by readapting the operatic voice for film and employing surrealism in the film’s construction. In this contemporary screen opera, the operatic voice included spoken dialogue, affected dialogue, singing and whispering. By working from pre-‐production to post-‐production, and applying contemporary notions of composition, I was led to consider the entire audio track of the short film as composition.
In the construction of the film, Out of Sight | Out of Mind, notions of contemporary opera, composition and surrealism were applied. While this resolved a significant conflict between opera and film, it also indicated similarities between contemporary screen opera and screen musicals or other films with music. This raises questions for future study in this area. Principally, it questions whether cinema is merely an incarnation of opera in which the drama unfolds on a screen, rather than a stage.
This research explores the plausibility of replicating a Broadway-type musical theatre industry in Asia. What would it take to establish a similar standard of musical theatre in an Asian country? With the problem being a lack of Asian representation in the genre, my aim has unashamedly been to see whether it was possible to increase the visibility of Asian musical theatre in form and content, with greater representation for makers and audience. By exploring the viability of creating a strong musical theatre platform in Asia, this research aimed to empower student/emerging Asian performers in believing that the dominant paradigm of musical theatre in the West could find a parallel or counterpart elsewhere. Upon brief exploration of various Asian countries, Singapore was chosen as the country in which to conduct the research and experimentation. Through interviews, focus groups, workshops, directorial and choreographic experiences with students at the only undergraduate musical theatre honours degree programme in the country, and immersion in the professional industry, I sought to shed light on the viability of an Asian Broadway-type musical hub in Singapore. I found a bourgeoning theatre industry, high production standards and sustainable growth for industry and audiences. Performers also showed interest and potential to develop their musical theatre skill-set, and educational programmes had the appropriate tools and curricula to guide performers, to hone those skills, and to help them achieve competitive and superlative standards of performance. I have found through the course of the research that in the city-state of Singapore, musical theatre has generated much interest. If my recommendations are executed, I argue there will be the potential for not only an increase in visibility, but also quality, which will inevitably lead to greater performing opportunities for Asian performers. I argue for small changes in the musical theatre curriculum and arming musical theatre educators with greater skills in order to extend musical theatre workshop offerings nationwide. This will enable skill acquisition and the nurturing of talent, allowing for a greater advancement in the art form, priming individuals for success and eventual contribution to the quality and prominence of the growing industry. This advocacy has the potential to sustainably and effectively promote musical theatre in the city-state and stimulate the education of audience and potential makers, and the nurturing of the next generation of performers and theatre enthusiasts. In addition, it will enable new Singaporean works to be developed, for eventual regional and subsequent international impact.
Spectromorphology and Spatiomorphology: Wave terrain synthesis as a framework for controlling timbre spatialisation in the frequency domain
This research project examines the scope of the technique of timbre spatialisation in the frequency domain that can be realised and controlled in live performance by a single performer. Existing implementations of timbre spatialisation take either a psychoacoustical approach – employing control rate signals for determining azimuth and distance cues – or an adoption of abstract structures for determining frequency-space modulations. This research project aims to overcome the logistical constraints of real-time multi-parameter mapping by developing an overarching multi-signal framework for control: wave terrain synthesis, an interactive control rate and audio rate system. Due to the precise timing requirements of vectorbased FFT processes, spectral control data are generated in frames. Performed in MaxMSP, the project addresses notions of space and immersion using a practice-led methodology contributing to the creation of a number of compositions, performance software and an accompanying exegesis. In addition, the development and evaluation of timbre spatialisation software by the author is accompanied by a categorical definition of the spatial sound shapes generated.
Rylan James Shearn
Most multicellular organisms reproduce sexually at some point in their life cycle. This is paradoxical because being asexual is theoretically far more advantageous. Asexual organisms do not need to find and court new mates, they reproduce at a faster rate, and with no males, all members of the population contribute toward population growth rate. With over 20, often mutually exclusive hypotheses, this paradox resists a synthesised explanation, and continues to represent one of the largest gaps in our understanding of fundamental evolutionary theory. Clearly, more real world studies are required that document the selective mechanisms underlying differences in evolutionary fitness between sexual and asexual organisms.
Some species can use either sexual or asexual reproduction, and remarkably, populations that use sexual reproduction can have distinctly different geographic distributions from those that use asexual reproduction. This phenomenon, whereby different distributions of reproductive mode can be observed within the same or closely related species, is called geographic parthenogenesis. These patterns hold promise in providing real world evidence for mechanisms leading to differences in evolutionary fitness between sexual and asexual lineages, because the two regions that sexual and asexual lineages occupy can be characterised by environmental tolerance ranges that in turn may be associated with selection pressure.
This thesis addresses the lacking real world evidence for selective mechanisms behind differences in fitness between sexual and asexual organisms, by seeking to develop and use a model system from which the importance of environmental parameters in explaining reproductive mode can be quantified. A freshwater crustacean (Ilyodromus, Ostracoda) occurring in rock outcrop pools along an ecological gradient in south western Australia was investigated. This crustacean employs both reproductive modes to varying degrees, such that the proportion of males in a population is indicative of the extent to which sexual reproduction is used. Unfortunately, since the systematics of this genus were poorly understood, one could not be sure of whether variation in reproductive mode observed between populations could also be due to lineage divergence, and an extensive systematic revision was also necessary for the development of thismodel system.
The key findings of this thesis are:
1. An improved understanding of the systematics of Ilyodromus, specifically:
a) Revised characters that are considered typical of the genus.
b) The boundaries between Ilyodromus and other similar genera.
c) Detailed species descriptions for ten nominal species, and three as yet unnamed species.
d) An improved ability to identify female-only populations
2. The model system constructed and used in this thesis enables the importance of environmental parameters in explaining reproductive mode to be quantified
3. Parthenogenesis tends to occur more in less stable (or more arid) habitats, while sexual reproduction tends to occur more in more stable (higher rainfall) habitats.
4. This, alongside patterns of species distribution, suggests that variation in reproductive mode is closely linked with processes of speciation and adaptive response to emptied niches.