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UAL Research Online

Ephemeral Art: A Philosophical Proposition about the Nature of Time and Being

Tillotson, Zoe (2007) Ephemeral Art: A Philosophical Proposition about the Nature of Time and Being. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Tillotson, Zoe

The subject of this thesis is ephemeral art; a phenomenon which has surfaced repeatedly in Western art history since the middle of the last century. The research begins from the premise that in order to understand ephemeral art it must be approached as a philosophical proposition concerning the nature of time rather than simply another movement, style or genre to add to the established art canon. As such, this is a crossdisciplinary enquiry which references both Western and Eastern philosophy as well as art theory and practice with a view to exposing how the concept of impermanence has been constructed within contemporary art and the consequent implications. It is also a practice-led enquiry in which my own creative work provides a concrete point of reference for discussing abstract philosophical concepts.

The thesis is structured in two parts. My aim in Part I is to explore how certain sorts of artistic practice have promoted a philosophically dubious and problematical understanding of impermanence based on dualistic principles; an understanding which has come to dominate critical consciousness and define what is thought of as ephemeral art. It also considers how this way of thinking about time paradoxically constrains the ability of ephemeral art to act as an effective critique of the museum and art institutional system.

Part II investigates whether ephemeral art is inevitably determined by a dualistic temporal perspective. It introduces a variety of other ephemeral practices which uncharacteristically appear to disrupt this perception of time. By appropriating key features from these examples, I develop a hybrid ephemeral artwork; a performance/installation piece entitled Dust, in order to analyse and evaluate whether an alternative ephemeral practice can successfully negate a dualistic temporality and facilitate a non-dualistic understanding of time.

Drawing on thirteenth century Japanese philosophy regarding impermanence and nonduality, this research makes a significant contribution to the field of art theory and practice bringing a new interpretation to bear on ephemeral art.

Additional Information (Publicly available):

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Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Camberwell College of Arts
Date: December 2007
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2020 15:03
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2024 16:40
Item ID: 15559
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/15559

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