Site of memory – sensuous geography and nostalgia

Moving forward, separating and understanding the differences between nostalgia and sentimentality another element within my work I have been interested in is the site of memory, or ‘ sensuous geography’ – the idea that ‘the senses mediate the apprehension of space and in so doing contribute to our sense of place’. Yi-Fu Tuan (1972) was the first to call attention to the spatiality of the senses and their role in shaping the affective relation of people to their habitat. “What begins as undifferentiated space becomes place as we get to know it better [through our senses] and endow it with value”’. 

Fundamentally it’s the idea that if you were stood on top of a mountain for example, then the sound, feel, and temperature of the atmosphere around you would ultimately denote you to your sense of place and thus your brain would register the fact you are on top of a mountain. What becomes interesting in terms of memory is say for example you visited this location under a second set of circumstances and similar environmental conditions endured then your brain may ultimately remember the preceding set of events, thus upon the second time you visit you may register a greater sense of space as you are adding new memories to a preceding one. You stand on top of the mountain, think back, take a huge breath, breathe out and feel good.

With the objects featured in the images, i am attempting to be slightly more obscure. You could almost look at the objects featured as miniature excavations pulled from my dried out slurry buckets with the site of memory being the buckets themselves. What I do to these excavations or ‘uncovered’ objects is completely controlled. I like the idea of looking at these objects as a series of memories from the past that has been mashed and distorted into the present, much like how I personally view ‘nostalgia’. How I glaze these objects, in terms of aestheticism is purely representational and subjective of my immaterial, material memories and nostalgia, that of early 2000s aesthetics or ‘YTK aesthetics’ – the glad, tacky, wacky space colors and transparent inflatable sofas that dominate my subconscious. These objects are ‘fractured’ representations of my memories and further myself.

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Tony Cragg – Tools/Litmus – 1996/99

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sensitivity to materials is fundamental both to Tony Cragg’s approach to his sculpture and to our appreciation of it.Materials have an emotional resonance as much as a necessary presence: they can be seen as the necessary mother of invention.Often craggs works can be arranged by themes that reflect how the choice of material has determined the form of the sculpture.

cragg expresses a view of aesthetics as a dialogue, an exchange of meanings: the material receives meaning for the intervention of the artist; the artist gains meaning from the response of the material.

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Craggs works invites a strong visceral response. not only is the concrete, tangible nature of the object/material inescapable, but there is an overtly sensual appreciation of texture, surface and colour. the initial impact is made in terms of the senses, or ‘ first order experience’. from a sensory response to sensual thought to abstract speculation seems almost an inevitable sequence of steps. by identifying an underlying order, and by revealing something of the connections between the laws governing the man-made world and those attributed to the organic world, Cragg attempts to indicate to contemporary man routes that start from a very elementary, almost primal level of direct and immediate response to simply presented matter.

Craggs work seems to be mainly of a primary order- pertaining to the infantile or preverbal phase of learning and experience – they retain a ‘rawness’. they allow to supersede habitual and jaded reactions and to let sensory delight flood in.