Louise Ritchie

Hybrid States: A practice-led exploration examining the ways in which artists experiment and improvise with materials, making-processes, and concepts in the creation of artworks.

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Thomas Nagel argued that while humans might imagine what it is like to be a bat, it remains impossible ‘to know what it is like for a bat to be a bat’. Through making, reflection and contextualisation, I examine what it is like for an ‘artist to be an artist’ to draw attention to its importance to how artists interpret and record their lived experiences and how this contributes meaning to the development of knowledge.  

I use the term Hybrid States specifically in the context of artworks created through blending new or unusual materials with traditional mediums and reformed through multiple iterations.  Hybridity also resides in the conceptual, imaginative realms where critical materials such as writing, philosophy and poetry coexist. Engaging with these through a practice-led methodology creates an iterative praxis that also allows me to examine artists’ perception of materiality (i.e., the character/quality of materials) and the thresholds between material-states and experiences to ask: 

How do artists perceive materiality and why might this be important when engaging with philosophical/cultural-concepts or life-experiences?  

What role does the performative/improvisational process play in making? 

What might hybridity look, feel or sound like between these material-states when working with unusual material combinations within a philosophy attentive to their non-material as well as material properties? 

How can artistic experimentation reveal inter-relationships between making and material properties that explore what makes an artwork an artwork and examines its thingness as an object within an art context. 

My research is conducted through studio practices with the aim of challenging traditional interpretations of materials, examining something new in hybrid, creative re-combinations and question:

What is the nature of ‘hybridity’ as it is applied to art, working in materials in unusual combinations by a philosophy attentive to the non-material (metaphysical) as well as material properties of matter?

How can artistic experimentation reveal inter-relationships between making with the material constrictions of properties, time, and energy in material transformation?

Transformed matter occupies space both in and out-with a physical presence; therefore, how do we apprehend the invisible but real non-material occupation of space?

These investigations test current understandings of what makes an artwork an artwork and its thingness as an object within an art context. Reflections on developing new concepts of 'beauty' will engage new technologies and thought-processes throughout.  These 'close-making' activities lead to parallel close-readings in philosophy, especially in aesthetics and metaphysics with  supplementary readings in material studies and material culture.

Names of Supervisors: 

  • Prof Graham Fagen
  • Prof Mary Modeen