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The artist is present: Lynch, Mendieta and creative practices of the body on-screen

This thesis examines visualisations of the human body and investigates how specific creative practices influence body representation on screen. Utilising a mixed methodological approach, including practice-related frameworks and qualitative textual analysis, this study will present socio-cultural implications of body conceptualisation. To demonstrate contemporary creative practice of depicting the body on screen, this thesis has produced a creative output in the form of a short film entitled Iris (2021). The film is a central output for the research and was created in response to the analysis of selected works of artist-filmmakers, David Lynch and Ana Mendieta. Through this creative component, I demonstrate the capacity to do research via filmmaking, locating the influences of Lynch and Mendieta on my practice. This research draws on Laura Mulvey’s influential theory of ‘visual pleasure’ and the male gaze, as well as Judith Butler’s theory of gender performativity. Throughout their respective careers, both Lynch and Mendieta have continuously adopted specific techniques that challenge and subvert gender representation. Using qualitative analysis, I will examine two selected works from each of these artists: Six Figures Getting Sick (1967), Lynch’s first true experiment with moving images, and Eraserhead (1977), Lynch’s debut feature-film. This will highlight Lynch’s aesthetics of depicting gender and the body from the transition of short audio-visual practices to feature filmmaking. For Mendieta, I will analyse Untitled: Glass on Body Imprints (1972), a photography series and performance work that examines gender representation and female identity through self-portraiture. Lastly, I will explore Sweating Blood (1973), an experimental film-work in which Mendieta expands her practices and investigates the female body as a visual site of crisis and violence. Furthermore, this research is among the first to comparatively examine Lynch and Mendieta’s work, thus I will generate new knowledge and heighten awareness of these specific creative practices. As a final analytical component, I present a critical exegesis of Iris. Through this, I discuss the various phases of production and argue the necessity for the creative component as a tool for conveying and generating knowledge.
Type of thesis
Porter, A. (2021). The artist is present: Lynch, Mendieta and creative practices of the body on-screen (Thesis, Master of Media and Creative Technologies (MMCT)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14358
The University of Waikato
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