Specific Objects

Shaw, Michael (2005) Specific Objects. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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The research explores Donald Judd's concept of Specific Objects, and how the notion of singular qualities, so essential to the concept, can be extended through the practice of sculpture. According to Judd, unity can only be achieved in sculpture when its form is specific and has only one quality. There must therefore be no apparent parts, no hierarchy and, therefore no relationships of parts. In addition, Specific Objects rejects illusion. The sculptor Robert Morris further defined singular qualities as those which predominantly distinguish 'good form', thereby positioning it within the syntax of Gestalt psychology. Significant though Judd's sculptures are, few seem to conform to his definition of Specific Objects because through his use of orthogonal geometry and contrast of materials, many of his sculptures do indeed appear not only to be composed of parts, but actually rely on the relationships between the parts. In addition, the contrast of opaque and transparent surfaces, inevitably leads to illusion. Rather than follow Judd's use of orthogonal geometries from parts of differing materials and colours, this research has investigated the potential of circular geometry to create form of sculptural significance within Judd's strict definition of Specific Objects. Key to this research has been what Rosalind Krauss described as the deflection of geometry, of which there are two types: one is based on actual variations in physical geometry and the second results from the illusory qualities of materials and surface finishes. The studio investigations sought to ascertain to what extent the 'deflection of geometry'can expand, but equally as importantly, maintain the viability of Judd's concept. In other words, the challenge was to extend the possible range of geometries that posses the singular qualities associated with Specific Objects; and in so doing provide an alternative response to the dilemma posed by the concept; how to make unified forms with variation and sculptural significance. The studio investigations were project based. Each project was directed by its aims and the resulting studies evaluated through criteria in which unity and singular qualities were fundamental. A reductive approach to studio investigation led to two forms that conclude the research. The unified geometry of the first is elliptical, although visual tension derives from the rotation of the internal ellipse relative to its external counterpart, whereas the second form contains the implied division of an internal figure of eight derivative within an elliptical exterior. Both forms were cast in translucent resins to combine illusory and physical deflections of their geometry. By so doing, they expand Judd's concept, by demonstrating the potential for implied duality and perceived variance to exist within a singular, unified, and specific form.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Stonyer, Andrewastonyer@glos.ac.ukUNSPECIFIED
Uncontrolled Keywords: Donald Judd, sculptor
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NB Sculpture
Depositing User: Phil Davis
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2016 16:03
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 21:34
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/3148

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