Cardiff Metropolitan University
2768 - John Purnell.pdf (32.17 MB)

The artistic communication of the experience of temporal perception

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posted on 2022-10-14, 14:11 authored by John Purnell


This thesis describes attempts by the researcher as reflective practitioner to communicate the experience of time and evaluate the effectiveness of the attempts.

The qualitative research obtained visual data gathered by unstructured, field observation from a fixed point in the landscape. This data was used in the production of artwork that was shown to a group of participants, all from the same accessible source. The communicative power of the artwork was tested using a series of open interviews, unstructured group discussions and collaborative experimental workshops.

The most significant contribution of this research is to the role that fine art plays as a visual code and the question of whether, as a shared language, it is an effective means of communicating such things as experience.

The research recognises and addresses three main problems: identifying temporal perception, identifying the shared language and improving the shared language.

Major findings include:

i. 'change' confirmed by the test participants as the means best suited to

conveying the experience of time.

ii. a diversity of understanding, as explored in the literature review, demonstrates that no single perspective on time can be adopted

iii. the expectations of the viewers played a significant role in recognising the

shared language and, therefore, in the interpretation of the works of art.

iv. even a limited art education expanded the test participants' shared visual

language which greatly influences these expectations.

v. overwhelmingly representational artwork, together with the traditional means of presentation and formats were the preferred means of communication for the test participants; any deviation from this norm only served to obscure the message and confuse the viewers, thereby necessitating additional information.

As well as the responses of interview and workshop participants the visual codes developed in the researcher's art practice are also discussed.

All the conclusions are intended as general suggestions, specific to the confines of this research and are not intended as rules generally applicable to the entire field of fine art.

Suggestions for future research are also given at the end of the thesis.



  • School of Art and Design

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD

Publication year


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