Traversing the zoo : a studio research project examining thresholds between nature and spatial practice

2017-02-22T03:18:03Z (GMT) by Kennedy, Irena
This exegesis constructs the documentary component of the studio research project: Traversing the Zoo: A Studio Research Project Examining Thresholds between Nature and Spatial Practice. This research aims to investigate the spatial constructs of the Zoo and the man-made nature environments within through the processes of writing and making. Examination of the Zoo's spatial constructs ignites discourse surrounding the threshold as an in-between liminal space of transition, separate from the inside and outside spaces. This threshold identifies itself as the place where the viewer is positioned, engaging with dialectics surrounding the way we view through investigating the history of optics and the power of viewing. This is discussed via Michel Foucault's writing on the panoptic and Margaret Olin's writing on the 'gaze'. The 'inside' space ofthe enclosure is defined as the 'other' space through Foucault's writing on heterotopias, and the subjective investigation of the 'uncanny' is considered in both Sigmund Freud's and Anthony Vidler's writings. The negative space of the animal is used as a reference through its physical absence in my work; thereby its presence is both known and felt. Through this absence the objects within the space are highlighted - as is the structure of the enclosure - whether it is a cage or naturalistic enclosure. Baudrillard's writing on simulation simulacra is applied, in part, to the 'nature' found within the enclosure to identify its underlying role. Nature and its man-made fabrication are examined and applied to the naturalistic enclosure through the joining of nature and culture. Throughout this research I have been constructing my own 'natures' based around those found in the Zoo and modelled from New Zealand/Aotearoa's natural environment. This examination of space and nature has progressed through installations at various venues in New Zealand/ Aotearoa and Australia, comprising of sculptural objects fabricated in fired clay, rendered cement, cast metal and glass.