In Search of No-self: An Installation Exploring Relations Between Notions of Selfhood, Transcendentalism and Sublimity

Maher, Julian
O'Connor, Maria
Joseph, Frances
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Master of Arts in Art and Design
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Auckland University of Technology

This thesis examines two major arenas of enquiry. Firstly it explores the notions of selfhood, via a critique of Modernity’s subject. This is considered through the frameworks of both deconstruction and Buddhism’s anatta theory of no self.

Through installation practice, theories of the sublime and transcendentalism have been activated in order to provide the viewer (who becomes an interactive participant) the possibility of experiencing no-self.’ ‘No-self’ is a philosophy and state of being from the Buddhism’s anatta theory, but I do not espouse here such a purity of no-self being in terms of only this theory. Rather, the project merges western post-structuralism’s deconstruction with anatta, as there are many coincidental moments that translate well in terms of the installation’s aims.

This project interconnects three inter-related levels of research:

  1. A critique of ‘Modernity’s Subject’ via particular post-structuralist thinkers, with respect to the notions of selfhood.
  2. A comparison between the embodied self, as defined by post-structuralism as ‘non-entity’, and the Buddhist’s anatta theory of no-self
  3. An investigation into an installation practice of the sublime, situated through sensual stimulus. This allows the “viewer” to experience both sublime and transcendental states.
Self , Philosophy , Art , Art installations
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