Monthly Archives: November 2013

MA Project Proposal

Working Title: Ambiguity in art Ambiguity is the best medium in art, because It can bring more possibilities to art. In fact, all kinds of artists, such as photographers, filmmakers, painters, and collage artists prefer this kind of expressive art form. They are all trying to use ambiguity to create a deeper meaning in their artistic work.

Aims and Objectives: This part of the project will be investigated through practice and research.

Aims 1: Exploring many possibilities with ambiguity in art,such as metaphor, montage, collage and illusion.

  • Objective1: Is there a neutral and ambiguous background which is suitable for artistic work? How does the artist create artistic work with ambiguity?Reference:  E. H. Gombrich , The story of art
  • Objective2: Understanding the meaning of illusive, allusive and elusive aspects in art. Reference: E. H. Gombrich, Art and illusion
  • Objective3:Researching different types of montage. Reading Eisenstein ‘s book , thinking about Sergi Eisenstein’s concepts.
  • Objective4: Reading theories and applying them to artworks as well as testing ideas. Conducting experiments regarding ambiguity in different ways.

Aims 2: Researching the relationship between the beholder and the artistic work.

  • Objective1:  How important is the beholder who gives different responses to unique artistic work?
  • Objective2:Analyse the responses of the beholder and their significance.

Aims 3: Research the relationship between ambiguity and contemporary advertisement.(Graphic and Television)

  • Objective1:Compare Chinese advertisement and foreign advertisement. What is different between these?
  • Objective2: in what way does ambiguity affects advertisement ?

Aim 4:  Work (Documentary)

  • Objective1:Study relative software such as Final Cut Pro,After effect.
  • Objective2:Understanding the essential knowledge of  how to make a documentary.(The documentary could be informal)
  • Objective3:Research narrative stories and theories in the documentary.

Context: Historical: Eisenstein summarized that montage is combination. He states that the juxtaposition of two film shots,which is not a simple addition but it is a new creativity. He also claims that these films shots are boring and are not aesthetic before editing, but montage can make it more magical. So we can see that montage is the principle of restructuring and selection. ‘Eisenstein argued that the collision between two adjoining images creates a third meaning. He said editing should make people think, not just see what they see.’I am trying to find this kind of  principle of montage to do photo collage or documentary, hoping to discover the ambiguous ways in art. At the same time, I will look to explore different forms of montage ,such as repetition and remix, and look at how montage attracts audience’s curiosity in art.

Contemporary: “Transcript– We don’t have a deep understanding of the Beholder’s Response, but it’s interesting that if you put together what we know from disorders of brain function and the normal physiology, we begin to understand an outline what the beholder’s response is. And this is so important because in 1906 when Freud was active and Klink, Tolkuchka and Sheely, the artists, were active, there was a major person at the Vienna School of Artistry called Alois Riegl. And he said that the problem with art history is, it’s going to go down the tubes because it’s too anecdotal, it’s too descriptive, it doesn’t have enough of a science base. It’s got to become more scientific. And the science it should relate itself to is psychology. And the key problem that it should address right off is the beholder’s share. You have a painting, that painting is not complete until the viewer responds to it.”—Eric Kandel I considered that viewer’s responses have a close relationship with artwork. In fact, many artists need not explain their works , which give more spaces for viewers who can have their own interpretations. There is no doubt  that viewer’s response is a part of the artistic work.I am interested in  how the beholder’s response plays a distinct role in  artwork. In some ways, interactive installation and some ambiguous artworks are useful for this research. For my perspective, I think that ambiguous artwork could be contemplative as it brings more possibilities for audience to think about that.

Theoretical contexts:

  • Representation
  • Illusion


  • Collage:Do collage in daily life. Use material from old magazines and books to practice and research how to reconstruct fragments from different integrated images in ambiguous way with my intuition.
  • Reading relative books
  • Photography:Continue to record everything, which I met in my daily life but is neglected from society.It could be an event, a story or a person. I prefer to record something I met and remind people to focus on it as soon as possible.
  • Experiment
  • Reflective journal

Outcomes: Final project could be divided into two sections.

  • Several short informal documentaries
  • Collage

Work plan:

10/13 – Research what ambiguity is looking for different artists’ work with ambiguity.

11/ 13  – Test idea and conduct experiments with ambiguity. Reading book and try to research further.

1-7/14 – Continue to do some experiments and try to find appropriate way.

7-12/ 14 – Research and prepare for the final project.

1-9 / 15 – Developing ideas, prepare for final project.

9 / 15 – prepare for exhibition in final show.


Gombrich.E.H,1986. Art and Illusion, Princeton University Press.

Gombrich.E.H,2006.The story of art, Phaidon Press Ltd.

Carolyn.B.G, 2000.Time and Image ,Manchester University Press

Willsdon & Costello,2008.The Life and Death of Images, Ethics and Aesthetics, Cambrige University Press.

Richard.C, 1979.The Social Role of Art, Roundwood Press.

Karen.R, 1998.Black and White Media, Polity Press.

Jacques.A,1987.Montage Eisenstein,Indiana University Press.

Daniel.H,2013. The Beholder’s Response: How the Brain Responds to Ambiguity in Art. Available at:

<;, [Accessed on MARCH 31, 2013].

Scott.R,2009. “Images are not a representation of reality”. Available at:

<;, [Accessed on July 8, 2009].



(GI)Huijun Guan管蕙珺: Only the first and last one has the yellow color? Why Jake: that was a question i had Jake: as well Sila Guven: this is very import an subject. Jake: i’m not sure i like the effect of just the yellow jacket  Jake: but that may be because i don’t understand the significance (GI)Huijun Guan管蕙珺: A kind of symbol? xiamagnus: it’s ambiguous! Jonathan Kearney: Xia 🙂 Jake: but if you mark a clear beginning and end doesn’t that remove the ambiguity? Russell Miller: I like it, it’s like a poem Edward Kelly: This is important. Ambiguity relates to the hidden narrative of the image, how the viewer’s imagination attempts subconsciously to re-construct the story that led to the moment of the image. Symbolism must not be arbitrary otherwise it becomes a decoy, a distraction from the process of filling in the gaps. Sicong Jiang: I naturelly link all the pictures and try to find the relation between them, they seem to tell a story Edward Kelly: So, a series of images will always be construed by the viewer as a narrative in some way. The hard part is to juxtapose images to lead the viewer on a journey of which you are in control xavi solé: in one of your posts, “Representation and Ambiguity” it’s said that : “We don’t trust words because they’re words, but we trust pictures because they’re pictures. That’s crazy. It’s our responsibility to investigate the truth, to approach images with care and caution”. (GI)Huijun Guan管蕙珺: Sorry personal opinion, do u think if u deliberately give the color to the first and the last one, will it destroy the concept of ambiguity? xavi solé: Are you interested in the TRUTH? Jonathan Kearney: it is worth scrolling down to the first post on the blog to see some of Ruby’s previous work here she wraps bandages round trees that have been cut down – what she hasn’t put on the blog is the film she made to go with this work, where she is in conversation with passers by who are confused by the delicate and caring actions of wrapping the trees but ultimately the action is pointless – the passer by find it highly ambiguous Jake: yes, i think that previous work creates ambiguity really effectively. xiamagnus: isolated, metaphorical color in black and white images is used often in narrative film (see Schindler’s List or Kurosawa’s High and Low) I think it can be a powerful storytelling device xiamagnus: i like the way you used it Edward Kelly: Or “Rumblefish” dir. Francis Ford Coppola Jake: i’m not sure if this new video does, but thats might be because on your blog you’ve accompanied it with contextual information Andy Venner: I find the bandages work really direct! Maybe i am Missing something Russell Miller: I’m sure you’ve seen this but Chris Marker’s film is a good example of using stills to create narrative  Jake: maybe the fact we are all taking such different things away from all of your work is a demonstration of it’s ambiguity xavi solé: in the Fluxus movement there’s an interest in how the viewer completes the story, am I wrong? Edward Kelly: With regards to photography and truth, I read an interesting article by Will Self about how nobody believes official accounts of President Kennedy’s assassination 50 years ago. It adds a philosophical opinion to the debate: xavi solé: 12 monkeys is La Jetée’s Remake Edward Kelly: Perhaps you need to ask yourself, “how little of the narrative can I provide in order for meaning to be ctreated by the viewer”? We always seek to uncover the truth about an image… Shiye Teng: Talk about the truth, it makes me think about the news report Edward Kelly: which has of course, been edited Shiye Teng: The photos in the report Andy Venner: Yes selected truths Russell Miller: I watche Primer the other day, I think you’d like it Andy Venner: Partial exposure xavi solé: the Kulseshov effect ! Edward Kelly: And Dzigar Virtof proved it with his juxtaposition experiments Sila Guven: I found something about metaphor and ambiguity, This can help you. Andy Venner: Like a VEN diagram xiamagnus: Ed- Errol Morris also made a short film about the Zapruder footage xiamagnus: Andy Venner: With an overlap that is the third meaning Edward Kelly: Sorry, you’re right, Lev Kuleshov Shiye Teng: Ed yeah, been edited, you can see different information when it has been cropped different Jonathan Kearney: there was an interesting discussion on the TV last night between the author of a new biography about the great British painter Lucien Freud and one of his daughters who is also an artist — she said something really interesting – she said whenever she showed her art to her father and when she tried to explain the meaning – Lucien Freund would get very angry and say, I’m not interested in the meaning, the work is enough, what drives you to make art that is the most important,– he seemed to like the idea of ambiguity, at least in them meaning of his work Russell Miller: Xia – Morris’ Tabloid is a fantastic study in truth and myth making Jonathan Kearney: Ruby – really good example to be thinking about Sergi Eisenstein – you should really explore that further xiamagnus: Yes Jonathan – I always respect artists who refuse to talk about ‘meaning’ of their work xiamagnus: Russ- I like that movie too xavi solé: Jonathan and Xia – there’s a greek concept the “metis”, about intuition and subconscious Andy Venner: Xia – it’s an awkward question becUase it asks you to apply limits Jake: an artist cannot speak about his art any more than a plant can discuss horticulture. – jean cocteau Edward Kelly: I think Andy’s comments about Venn diagrams are useful. If we think about meaning in terms of the “watershed theory of cognition” by Edward De Bono, meaning is a resolution of ambiguity that we are most comfortable with. Andy Venner: To Summarise something with indicators that aren’t sufficient Edward Kelly: Talking about music is like dancing about architecture – David Bowie I think xiamagnus: especially the important ones Edward Kelly: Laurie Anderson? Steve Martin? Frank Zappa? Martin Mull? Elvis Costello? Thelonius Monk? Jake: there’s a quote i also read that may be relevant about how a photograph conceals more then it reveals xavi solé: Metis (μῆτις) meant “cunningness” or “wisdom, craft, skill” in Ancient Greek. Jonathan Kearney: Ruby – you have lots of interesting links and ideas to use from this chat so far – the subject of ambiguity is potentially vast, but I think you will find a way forward through a combination of reading theories AND making work, testing ideas visually Jake: sounds like baudrillard or something Edward Kelly: Yes, and this is what I meant by “the hard part” Xavi – being in control of the viewer’s journey Edward Kelly: guile Shiye Teng: I always see some artist explain their idea of work in some interview Edward Kelly: It wasn’t Elvis Costello (:| Jonathan Kearney: Ed, Xavi, – I’m not sure there is anyway to control the viewers journey, but with skill and craft maybe you can guide and suggest possible ‘readings’ of your images Shiye Teng: But I still believe the audience can be guided Edward Kelly: Well yes, that’s what I mean. NUDGE them

There are so many points of view are very helpful. One of suggestion is Jonathan notes that Sergi Eisenstein is a good example to be thinking about ambiguity. I will do some further research about that. Moreover,  as we know, ambiguity is potentially vast, I need to focus on the combination of practice and theory. Another suggestion is maybe making artwork is most important rather than making an explanation for the meaning of artwork. Because this is ambiguous in some way. Xavi also mentions that intuition and subconscious are potential concept. In addition, some relative links from this tutorial,which are very valuable. I think I will continue to do some projects on photomontage concerning ambiguity. However, Thank you all of comments from you guys, I will think about these feedbacks seriously.

I went to a town that I’ve never been to, I expected something happen and everything is unpredictable. I used a film camera to record everything that I met on the road because the film brings the difference between my original intention and final effect. All of these elements with intangibility, unpredictable and ambiguity are mixed together. I tried to select,reconstruct and isolate these photos, which is called photo collage. At the same time, I pay attention to the different responses from the beholder so please tell me your feeling when you look at this video. I would really appreciate it. I think that beholder’s response is a part of my project and it always relates to ambiguity. This is an experiment that I attempted to use this expressive form to record more meaningful things in the future. I guess that it could be an event, could be a person, and could be a story. I prefer to record something I met and remind people of focusing on it as soon as possible. Maybe it is a social phenomenon or just an attitude of life. It is mentioned that my project must be specific for a single event rather than the content of this experiment, and I will try to make more. Just keep trying…