Therapeutic Tactility in the Contempory Artworks of Antony Gormley and Richard long with Lessons from Art Therapy

Berry-Mcintosh, E. (2020) Therapeutic Tactility in the Contempory Artworks of Antony Gormley and Richard long with Lessons from Art Therapy. Undergraduate thesis, University of Chichester.

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Abstract

Tactility, the active sense of touch, is undervalued in culture; its significance overshadowed by the cultural priority given to sight. As Paterson writes, “Within an academic climate that celebrates visual cultures, and the popular media’s infatuation with visuality, touch remains largely neglected [and] forgotten” (Paterson, 2007:1). This is not a new phenomenon; its roots burrowed deep within western philosophy’s foundations, explicitly codified by Aristotle’s hierarchy of the five senses in which sight is at the top and touch is proposed as primal, found in all humans and animals, relegating it to the bottom rank as the most common sense (Freeland, 1995; Massie 2013). Tactility’s low position as a constitution and relegation as the ‘common sense’ can be explained by the complexity of touch being taken for granted, a singular sense that cannot be explained by the working of one organ but rather a whole system of perception which defines the human experience (Bingley, 2012). The perception of touch as being less important is problematic to the wider therapeutic practice of art.
Culture has largely downplayed the importance of tactility by prioritising the other senses, most notably seen in our consumption of media and entertainment, opting for the quick fix of the visual experience (Berger, 1972; Knochel, 2013). Art Therapy as a practice has existed for hundreds of years, grounded in research and practice of the visual but is not possible for Art Therapy to exist without tactility (Hogan et al, 2002). The developments of therapeutic tactility in Art Therapy can aid the understanding of significant cultural absorption in the wider expressive arts and entertainment fields.
This dissertation analyses the therapeutic qualities of tactility and provides a framework for understanding the therapeutic value of tactility through the contemporary artworks of Antony Gormley’s ‘Field’ and Richard Long’s mud circles. It is formed of three sections. The first section explores the therapeutic values of tactility through Art Therapy. This includes Freudian based image analysis, Jungian process-led approaches, the Expressive Arts Therapies Continuum (EATC) and Sandplay Therapy. Therein lies the vital role of tactility in Art Therapy as part of the expressive process of creating therapeutic art outcomes. The second section explores the philosophical underpinning of tactility’s value by analysing tactility’s delegation to the lowest position in the hierarchy of sense, by applying phenomenological concepts of embodiment and being-in-the-world. This highlights the primality of touch and its role in producing therapeutic outcomes and artworks. The final section examines tactility within the works of Gormley and Long, providing a meaningful framework to analyse their works and explain the cultural significance.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Therapy, Contemporary, Sand-play, Gormley, Richard Long
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR > N61 Theory. Philosophy. Aesthetics of the arts
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Arts and Humanities
Student Research > Undergraduate
Depositing User: Janet Carter
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2022 11:52
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2022 11:52
URI: https://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/6604

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