Between field and form by Ross Mcleod

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Abstract

The PhD developed a creative methodology toward the practice of interior design which eschewed the conception of materiality and physical form as the central concern in the fashioning of objects and spaces, and embraced the comprehension of the physical fields that shape sensorial experience as its primary concern. In this process the conceptual base for design was envisaged as the harnessing of fields of energy rather than the shaping of inert matter. The undertaking of the project involved the manipulation of light, sound, form and materiality as four separate yet interrelated areas of investigation. Each investigation was founded on an appreciation of the phenomena being manipulated and involved the development of design briefs and conceptual scenarios in which techniques for the manifestation of physical effects, sensorial affects and expressive properties were tested.

The work that was generated in developing these sensibilities was considered as a continuous spectrum of creative practice which traversed the nexus between art and design and led to the development of new and hybrid forms of expression. These hybrid conditions worked on many levels throughout the project. On one level the works expressed the bringing together of the concepts and principles of art and science in order to develop methodologies that can consider matter and energy as manifestations of a unified continuum of conditions. Intersecting the consideration of physical properties was the exploration of a form of practice that challenged the distinctions between art and design. These distinctions were questioned through the blurring of boundaries between interior design and installation art, furniture and sculpture, and sculpture and architecture. In the ensuing projects the expressive and confrontational nature of an artwork and the functional intent of a design solution formed a simultaneous fusion of concerns.

Ultimately the project’s consideration of the relationship between the manipulation of phenomena and its effects on our perception sought to reconfigure the reference points from which to consider the act of design. In such a schema, design is no longer thought of as being concerned with the conceiving of objects, spaces and buildings but rather is considered as a cross-disciplinary practice that is involved in the shaping of spatial experience. In this approach to design, the phenomenological appreciation of the body and its sensory faculties, as the mediator between physical sensation and mental cognition was explored and exploited. Under these terms interior design can be viewed as the manipulation of spatial phenomena which structures our perceptual comprehension and subsequent interaction with the built environment. The design that emerged from this thinking ranged from temporal and ephemeral art-based installations, short-term exhibitions and expositions, sculptural interventions, dramatic architectural spatial transformations and the shaping of the interrelationships and narratives within complex interior programs.

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