Ambiguity and illusionism: Lincoln Austin and the contemporary context

Carlon, Kris (2007). Ambiguity and illusionism: Lincoln Austin and the contemporary context Honours Thesis, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, The University of Queensland.

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Author Carlon, Kris
Thesis Title Ambiguity and illusionism: Lincoln Austin and the contemporary context
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies and Art History
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2007
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Sally Butler
Total pages 59
Language eng
Subjects 190502 Fine Arts (incl. Sculpture and Painting)
190101 Art Criticism
Formatted abstract
This thesis argues that the presence of visible illusionism in the work of the contemporary Australian sculptor Lincoln Austin elicits the ambiguous and contingent nature of perception and reflects a characteristic quality of the contemporary context. The multiplicitous complexity of the contemporary condition is found to be a feature of Austin’s practice in the illusionistic instability of his sculptures as drawings. The implications of this recognition are based on the perceptual ambiguity produced by the encounter with the objects, and this contingent relationship between appearance and actuality provides the terms through which the analysis proceeds. This thesis therefore analyses the co-extensive operations of the three main areas of Austin’s practice: wire sculptures; works on paper; and bas-reliefs. That these apparently distinct mediums are shown to share common illusionistic features connects Austin’s practice to a wider context of illusionism from Renaissance linear perspective to the modernist negation of illusion. This analysis articulates the points of connection and departure between these contexts and that of the contemporary.

The introduction emphasises the pivotal role that the initial experience of Austin’s work plays in subsequent perception and provides the methodological approach of the discussion. This experiential methodology is drawn from the example of the American formalist art critic Michael Fried, and its interpretive framework derives from the French art historian Yve-Alain Bois. Both approaches are then informed by the multiplicity of the contemporary condition. The thesis therefore embraces a number of theoretical and aesthetic models in order to engage with the fluctuating operations of the work.

Chapter One outlines the agency of illusionism in the perception of three-dimensional sculpture as two-dimensional image and describes the sculptures’ connection to drawing. Chapter Two then relocates the discussion to the two-dimensional surface in order to demonstrate the mobility of values between mediums that is characteristic of the contemporary. It also argues that the works on paper harbour an illusionistic sculptural quality.

Chapter Three occupies the literal half-way point between the two-and three-dimensional through its analysis of Austin’s bas-relief work. These works are shown to produce ambiguous perceptual readings of both pictorial and sculptural qualities. This chapter and the conclusion then argue that this simultaneous perception of co-present spatial alternatives represents a contemporary intellection of ambiguity, and positions Austin as exemplary of what Jean Baudrillard has described as the necessary recovery of illusionism.
Keyword Thesis -- BAHons

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (non-RHD) - UQ staff and students only
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Created: Wed, 26 Nov 2014, 12:28:47 EST by Mary-Anne Marrington on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service