Dr Julie Brooke - Thinking Spaces: a Practice-led Enquiry Into Representations of Memory and Thought

Julie Brooke graduated with first class Honours and a University Medal from the ANU School of Art Painting Workshop in 2008, and completed a practice-led visual arts PhD in 2013 for which she was awarded the J. G. Crawford Medal. A former research scientist, she investigates parallels between research in science and in the visual arts, and exhibits her work nationally. She held a Vice-Chancellor’s Artist Fellowship in the ANU Department of Applied Mathematics in 2014, and is a Research Fellow at the ANU School of Art.

In this presentation, I reflect on my practice-led PhD research in the context of a 2014 residency in the ANU Department of Applied Mathematics. Drawing on my experience in biomedical research, my thesis explored parallels between research in science and in the visual arts, with a particular focus on the role and representation of hypothetical thought. I draw and paint extended series of geometric works that reference Latin American concrete art, logic diagrams, and the memory palace. These evolving forms operate as experimental data sets that I can use to record and analyse decisions made in the studio without disrupting the intuitive painting process.

I manipulate colour and tone to deliver contradictory visual information, creating ambiguous images of ‘impossible objects’ that explore the potential for visualising hypothetical thought. In scientific research, hypothesising involves imagining plausible but mutually exclusive explanations for experimental  findings. It is periodically speculative, multi-stranded and imaginative, but narrows to a single thread as each theory is tested. However, in my visual research, conflicting plausible interpretations do not collapse, but are instead held open in a state of unresolved tension. I will describe how this investigation continues as interdisciplinary research into the visualisation of abstract mathematical concepts.

From The Outstanding Field: Artistic Research Emerging from the Academy - A Symposium. 19th — 21st of March 2015.