Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Allen, Annette C.

Author's Keywords

Phenomenology; Image consciousness; Edmund Husserl; Maurice Merleau-Ponty; Contemporary art


Phenomenology and art; Art--Philosophy; Philosophy of mind; Husserl, Edmund, 1859-1938; Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, 1908-1961


This dissertation presents the philosophical concepts of Edmund Husserl on phenomenology and image-consciousness and explores the phenomenological project of Maurice Merleau-Ponty as I have sought to render them in my creative artwork. By building upon Husserl' s theories on the phenomenological constitution of an object and his specific work with image-consciousness, the diverse structures of a contemporary image-consciousness are realized photographically in my artwork. His sketches, collected works and lectures provide a foundation of knowledge beyond traditional and contemporary photographic theory. Furthermore, Merleau-Ponty's writings on phenomenology, perception, embodiment and the visible/invisible have strengthened my ability to create diverse structures of meaning in images throughout an exhibition of artwork. His ideas of body schema, flesh and chiasm are directly incorporated into the physical reality and aesthetic experience of my work. As artist, I disclose the possibilities of Husserl's image-consciousness as perceived through Merleau-Ponty's concept of the embodied viewer in intimate communion with the world. The creative work associated with this dissertation consists of a series of eleven images, most of which are larger than life-sized portraits. These images, while photographically captured and digitally produced, do not result in what are considered traditional photographs. The method of their production, surface treatments and multilayered technique of integration makes each image a unique entity. These technical aspects additionally allow a degree of translucency and image depth to be manipulated within the work through a changing quantity and variable quality of light. The large scale of the pieces, physical characteristics and amount of movement required for the viewing an image comprehensively places emphasis on the phenomenological theories as embedded within or illuminated by the artwork. Whether it is one image or the entire body of work, all must be considered as part of a predetermined horizon or world that can only be constituted by the embodied viewer as his or her consciousness and world are synthesized or intertwined.