In Pursuit of Puzzlement: How architecture can pose questions by Scott Elliott

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Through building site-specific architectural interventions, this PhD develops an artistic practice that draws out puzzlement and tentativeness in the relationships between body and architecture. This research proposes that posing spatial questions through the construction of puzzling environments and interventions allows an open-ended engagement with surroundings to develop over time. Rather than questioning rhetorically through language and reflection, questions are posed through the space and materials of engagement, by extending elements from a given architectural environment that becomes inflected and destabilized. These extensions create material encounters that begin to reveal the contingent relations between body and architecture. Rather than foreclosing with conclusions, the aim is to generate a puzzlement that opens up the potential for reconstructing body-architecture interdependencies.

These aims are extended into a dissertation composed of letters written to a range of thinkers/practitioners – where questions concerning the practice are discussed and developed. Like the creative work itself, no answers to these questioning letters are expected. This doctoral research, conducted through artistic practice, occurs within the field of architectural art installations, and is informed by specific lineages in art practice and philosophy that explore relations between body and architecture. These include the artists-architects Arakawa and Madeline Gins, Robert Kocik, Gregor Schneider, Mike Nelson, Jane Bennett and Brian Massumi. It offers a contribution to art practices that engage with architecture, through proposing and developing approaches that employ tentativeness and puzzlement as a way to dehabituate ingrained actions and behaviours. This research proposes how art can intervene into and inflect our relationship with built surroundings to not only reveal contingencies between body and architecture, but also open up potentials for rethinking and recasting this relationship.


Examiners: Dr Terri Bird, Prof Julieanna Preston  Supervisors: A/Prof Pia Ednie-Brown, A/Prof Jondi Keane, Dr Charles Anderson

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