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For every words has its own shadow: Sunset, Notes From Underground, Waves


Lisa Tan


For every words has its own shadow: Sunset, Notes From Underground, Waves

Dissertation in Fine Art, Valand Academy 2015

Artist's book:

Sunsets, Notes From Underground, Waves


Liminality permeates this doctoral project's questions: how can an expe- rience of the liminal exist as an artwork? What things and experiences can orient us towards affectivity and states of becoming? Lisa Tan relates such concerns to Clarice Lispector whose writing renders becoming(s) visible. Coupled with Maurice Blanchot and his literary discourse on dispossession and the outside (analogous to becoming), Tan's inquiry is critically engaged inside a moving image practice. A suite of videos: Sunsets, 2012; Notes From Underground 2013; and Waves 2014-15, stand as the primary output of this dissertation. Drifting between day and night, above and below ground, land and sea, they exist as movements towards the fulfillment of the promise of the liminal: transformation.

In Sunsets, the sun converses with the force that is Clarice Lispector. The video documents the audio of a casual translation of an interview with Lispector from 1977. This recording forms the video's soundtrack. The visual footage is comprised of scenes that were filmed at 3 o’clock
in the morning during the summer or 3 o’clock in the afternoon during the winter in Sweden. Notes from Underground connects the Stockholm metro and Susan Sontag’s sojourn in Sweden with a cavern system 5,000 miles away in New Mexico. The video suggestively links this journey
to experiences of liminality, narrating varied intensities of geological time and strata of personal and cultural history. Departing from Virginia Woolf’s novel The Waves, Tan’s video Waves imagines how conscious- ness forms in relation to society and its technologies, but also to expres- sions of geological and hydrological processes. Filmed at the threshold of land and sea, a conversation forms between disparate hydro-relations, such as Woolf’s prose, Courbet’s paintings of waves, Google’s data cen- ters cooled by the Baltic Sea, invisible jellyfish, and transoceanic cables.

The dissertation includes the videos, a doctoral thesis, and an artist's book, containing: illustrated transcriptions of each video; a documented solo exhibition; texts by Mara Lee, Lauren O’Neill-Butler, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, and Lisa Tan. The artist's book both documents and reflects on the research performed and involves the voices of others, providing a critical, intersubjective understanding of liminality.

This is thesis no 53 in the ArtMonitor dissertation series.

ISBN: 978-91-982422-1-8


This dissertation is published in English. 

Order the artist's book:

Lisa Tan's artist's book can be ordered through Archive Books.


The dissertation, artist's book and films are e-published in GUPEA - Gothenburg University Publications Electronic Archive. Download the dissertation and view films here

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