My artistic research investigates the systemic interrelation between light, body, perceptual experience and environment through practice-based and theoretical enquiry. A long-held fascination with light is at the core of my research and light has afforded an expression beyond language that has been fundamental to my interdisciplinary collaborations across art, science, moving image and performance. My recent practice-based PhD ‘Taking the Long View’ examines these same themes by adapting psychologist James J. Gibson’s seminal text ‘The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception’ (1979) as a methodology and framework for practice-based ecological artistic research. My research contributes to the emerging academic field of Ecological Artistic Scholarship and offers an artistic research approach capable of cultivating an ecological worldview. My investigation addresses the ecological imperatives that increasingly influence contemporary artistic and cultural discourses and society more broadly.
While the focus of my PhD research lies in the adaptation of Gibson’s theory, the practice-based methods that drive my study draw on my knowledge and experience as an artist and moving image designer. Artistic practice is the foundation of my study and the attentive observation of light is the foundation of my practice. My research demonstrates that the process of attentive observation facilitates perceptual learning and improves knowledge acquisition through refinement and attunement – rigorous observation leads to attunement; attunement leads to an education of attention ; and an education of attention contributes to the cultivation of an ecological worldview. Using attentive observation and subjective immersive experience as my primary methods of investigation the ecological principles of systemic interconnection, mutuality and reciprocity were examined through artistic enquiry. The artefacts generated in my research process including A Year of Light, The Orbit Series, Museum of Light, The Light of Home and The Observer Effect were used to test and refine my proposed Gibsonian research framework. My research is disseminated through conferences, publications, exhibitions, screenings, workshops and public events in the UK and internationally.
Michaela completed her PhD at the Royal College of Art, London in July 2020. Her PhD thesis ‘Taking the Long View’ is available on the RCA Research Repository.
A list of Michaela’s recent publications and conference presentations is available here.