Buddhist meditation as art practice: art practice as Buddhist meditation

Hsieh, Su-Lien (2010) Buddhist meditation as art practice: art practice as Buddhist meditation. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the impact of meditation on art practice. Its basic hypothesis is that Buddhist meditation can expand creative capacity by enabling the practitioner to transcend the limits of everyday sense experience and consciousness. Artists engaging in meditation develop a closer, more aware relationship with their emptiness mind (kongxin), freeing them from preconceptions and contexts that limit their artistic creation. Because this practice-led research focuses on how to expand one‘s freedom as an artist, I use two models to explore studio practice, then compare and contrast them with my own prior approach. A year-by-year methodology is followed, as artistic practice develops over time. The first model is studio practice in the UK, the second is Buddhist meditation before artistic activity. The research took place over three years, each representing a distinct area. Accordingly, in area 1 (the first year), I compared studio art practice in the UK with post-meditation art practice; in area 2 (the second year), I compared studio art practice in the UK with prostration practice at Bodh-gaya, India plus meditation before act activity; in area 3 (the third year), I compared studio art practice in the UK with entering a month-long meditation retreat in Taiwan before practicing art. By Buddhist meditation I refer more specifically to insight meditation, which K. Sri Dhammananda has described as follows: Buddha offers four objects of meditation for consideration: body, feeling, thoughts, and mental states. The basis of the Satipatthana (P?li, refers to a ?foundation? for a ?presence? of mindfulness) practice is to use these four objects for the development of concentration, mindfulness, and insight or understanding of our-self and the world around you. Satipatthana offers the most simple, direct, and effective method for training the mind to meet daily tasks and problems and to achieve the highest aim: liberation. (K. Sri II Dhammananda 1987:59) In my own current meditation practice before art practice, I sit in a lotus position and focus on breathing in and breathing out, so that my mind achieves a state of emptiness and calm and my body becomes relaxed yet fully energized and free. When embarking on artistic activity after meditation, the practice of art then emerges automatically from this enhanced body/mind awareness. For an artist from an Eastern culture, this post-meditation art seems to differ from the practices of Western art, even those that seek to eliminate intention (e.g. Pollock), in that the artist‘s action seem to genuinely escape cogito: that is, break free of the rational dimensions of creating art. In my training and development as a studio artist, I applied cogito all the time, but this frequently generated body/mind conflict, which became most apparent after leaving the studio at the end of the day: I always felt exhausted, and what was worse, the art that I created was somehow limited. However, my experience was that Buddhist meditation, when applied before undertaking art practice, establishes body/mind harmony and empties the mind. For this artist at least, this discovery seemed to free my art as it emerged from emptiness through the agency of my energized hand. It was this, admittedly highly personal, experience that led me to undertake the research that informs this thesis.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: V600 Theology and Religious studies
W100 Fine Art
W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Arts
University Services > Research and Business Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Related URLs:
Depositing User: EPrint Services
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2011 09:17
Last Modified: 09 May 2017 08:33
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/1942

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