Date of Award
Level of Access
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Second Committee Member
Owen F. Smith
Third Committee Member
My art practice is an evolution of my interdisciplinary, undergraduate work in philosophical research. I'm interested in epistemological structures-in what it means to know. I have moved away from linear, text-based sources and methods to contemplate these knowledge-structures.
My thesis hinges on the assumption that if we could imagine time materially instead of abstractly, methods for generating knowledge would expand and vary. They might not be text-based or historically bound. Notions of causality might change. Two issues trouble me: An ends-oriented notion of research in an academic context, and perspectival consequences of the act of writing itself.
I represent my research here in five independent chapters that can be read in any order, creating multiple integral vantage points. I contend that written language, especially exposition, is a reflection of time as linear, causal, and abstract. Rethinking the manner in which information is delivered is central to this research. While I am writing in a linear way, that method alone misses and potentially precludes additional ways of experiencing time. This is the very issue I am exploring.
The first chapter is a story articulating themes in the subsequent investigations. Although not necessary to read this first, it can be considered a kind of ground from which the other elements issue.
The second chapter, a history, is wholly paraphrased, if not directly quoted, from classical and contemporary sources. This integration of ideas, and most importantly their cotemporality, casts doubt on historical, causal narrative, and the value of authority when it comes to knowledge creation. This delivery characterizes western thinking as redundant, rather than melodic. It is repetitive, rhythmic. This is an unconventional characterization of Western thought as anti-progressive. There is a new realm of interpretive possibility thus exposed.
The third chapter uses the rhetoric and structure of the essay form to explore the proper virtue of practicality. This parable addresses means vs. ends, tacit assumptions, and the role of methodology.
The fourth chapter gives shape and principle to the epistemological notions already established and relates it to a making practice. Its style hybridizes the artist statement and the mantra. The mantra is a kind of medium for translating words into being, or into actions. It is a methodology for transformation through repetition. The activity of repeating a mantra specifically engages with time as a material entity; it generates rhythm.
The final chapter, "As Metamorphosis," is the most recognizable as an academic research document. It translates the ideas already discussed into an exposition analyzing source texts and building a context for articulating a research strategy commensurate with my art practice, and for analyzing the resultant works.
I am an artist because in some ways the written form has ceased to satisfy my curiosity. I am wary of its predominance as way of generating and communicating knowledge. This research distinguishes between the notions of discovery and creation as important epistemological poles. The aim of this research is not to discover, but to make.
D'Italia, Gabriella, "Becoming the Center of the Universe" (2012). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1758.