Funded by Faculty Scholarship and a University of Brighton Scholarship
This PhD assesses key films in the tradition of British avant-garde cinema and contemporary British art, arguing that certain methods employed by these artists could be synthesized for an urban documentary practice in a digital video medium, as ways to access and promote subjective and objective routes to knowledge, with the potential to call attention to the lived experiences of space, and experiences such as: alienation, conflict and trauma in the urban and the everyday environment.
As such this research draws from the phenomenological writings of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Martin Heidegger, Michel Chion’s sound theory and Henri Lefebvre’s relational conception of space, in order to flesh out the more experiential aspects of these films and a potential method of documentary practice for the analysis of space. The contribution this PhD seeks to make is both theoretical and methodological, in terms of re-considering the theory and practice of early formative British Structural/Materialist films as a potential source of documentary method and practice, and in applying these findings towards the development of a digital video based method for encountering and interpreting urban and everyday reality in a contemporary arts context.
This PhD therefore seeks to contribute to recent dialogues concerning art as socially engaged practice, and especially in relation to artists’ approaches to documentary making. In a broader context this dissertation also takes a comparative approach to media, in order to promote an exploration of the possibilities for a convergence of analog materialist and digital art practice, at the historical juncture in which digitization signals the immanent loss of film, materialist practice and authorship.