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A cut in attention: reimagining attentional capacities for painting

Derby, Moyra (2022) A cut in attention: reimagining attentional capacities for painting. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.97368) (KAR id:97368)


This practice based PhD reimagines attentional capacities for painting. It asks how a contemporary painting practice can activate and critically engage with the limits and oscillations of attentional capacity. The cut in attention of the title instigates an interruption to restrictive models of attention, moving beyond expectations of attention that are idealised or characterised as though in deficit. Testing art historical and philosophical framings of attention against current cognitive and neuropsychological research, and in the context of wider social and economic levers for attentional manipulation, the attentional conditions of contemporary painting's production and reception are innovatively reevaluated.

Drawing on the exchange between attention and the processes of memory and imagination, a pictorially generated methodology allows the practice to work within an expanded space for painting that can both picture and prompt attentional response. In considering painting as a set of conventions and discourses already attuned to attentional capture and modification, alongside painting's potential to resist attentional compliance through attentiveness to material, spatial and durational possibilities, a more complex and socially embedded position for painting opens up. The multi modalities, fluctuations and temporality of attention and distraction are positioned as attentional resources for painting. Navigating between the externally reactive and internally reflective, between tactile and visual stimuli or the shifts between focus and dispersal, enable attention to operate here as both subject and method in a radical process of reimagining.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Illingworth, Shona
Thesis advisor: Fontana-Giusti, Gordana
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.97368
Uncontrolled keywords: Painting, Contemporary painting, Attention, Attentional Capacities
Subjects: N Visual Arts > ND Painting
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2022 09:10 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2022 08:42 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Derby, Moyra.

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