Elfving, Taru. 2009. THINKING ALOUD ON THE ADDRESS OF THE VIEWER. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The thesis examines the viewer's position in relation to contemporary moving
image installations, particularly the work of the artist and filmmaker Eija-Liisa
Ahtila (b. 1959, Finland). It maps out a shift in research from the analysis,
occupation and rethinking of subject positions to the mobilisation and
inhabitation of encounters, where the positions are in constant becoming. In
dialogue with Luce Irigaray's philosophical thought and related theoretical
discourse, it traces a shift from the disruption of dualism with strategic
mimesis to the critical inhabitation of a space of mediation opened up by
resemblance. In terms of methodologies in the field of visual culture this
implies a move from the problematics of representation, and from
deconstructive and re-signifying practices, to questions of the viewer's and
researcher's implication.
The argument is structured around two parts, firstly on the Girl as an
unmarked figure that unsettles definitions of centred, identity-based
subjectivities and their gendered attributes. The figure emerges here not as a
representation but as an event, while the focus is drawn from interiority as
the core of a subject to surfaces as sites of contacts. This leads to the
second part of the argument, on the notion of the address, which initiates a
further shift of attention onto the modes by which the works and the
characters in them allow and call for the viewer's involvement. The thesis
examines these moves with the use of the concepts of staining, haunting,
thinking aloud and witnessing, which all emphasise outward and forward
orientation. They focus on boundaries as sites of disruption and production of
positions of viewing, thinking and speaking, instead of as their markers.
Through close reading of Ahtila's works the thesis argues for active
viewership that demands constant critical situated ness in terms of affiliations
arising from communication.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

17 Dec 2015 10:40

Last Modified:

18 Oct 2022 12:39


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