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Anderson - Aesthetics of Empathy
Murray Anderson, PhD student

Aesthetics of Empathy: affective affinities and latent gothicness in contemporary sculpture

PHD completed 2019

My practice-based research project is positioned at a synthesised intersection between the concept of the Gothic, along with its haunted associations with adolescence, the uncanny, and nostalgia, in dialogue with the notion of empathy. The Gothic and empathy are slippery, umbrella terms with tangled histories that defy ready definition. Both originated within the visual arts: the Gothic to describe non-classical art and architecture produced between the 11th and 16th centuries, and empathy was developed in the late 19th century to explain aesthetic experience arts. Subsequently these terms have become dissociated from contemporary art discourse and are currently frequently viewed negatively or as being naïve. Through my own art practice, close reading of other contemporary artists’ work, and textual analysis I intend to analyze the affective potential transmitted via sculptural construction and expression and contextually gauge the latent persistence of Gothic expression in popular culture. In doing so, I wish to address the questions of how empathy is engendered in contemporary sculpture and whether such an empathetic aesthetic can be read within an expanded Gothic paradigm. [MA2407@live.mdx.ac.uk]