Artistic work and visual thinking : a particular research-history of perception

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


This is an artistic research presented in a theoretical form in order to afford basic research of art-education. In methodology, the presentation is phenomenological with concept-analytical means, and follows the theoretical interest. The research begins with a question evoked by interdisciplinary experiences: Why artistic practice, occasionally, seems to refer to other practices the way that gives no answer how the practice finds it reference? First I approach the research question in my own art practice, then in its other cultural contexts: visual culture, contemporary art, philosophy of tool, anthropology of mimesis, aesthetic experience, imagination, theory of perception and the movement as a source of wisdom of flesh. These contextualizations make it possible to rethink my conceptual framework and to locate the research within the discourse on visual. Finally in a dialogue with a selection of artists I turn to the original research question with new conceptual tools: What kind of politics an artist chooses to make visual thinking visible? The research outcome is presented as a possible genealogy of discourse on visual thinking that finds its sources especially from Foucault’s idea of episteme, in the Finnish art-education research-tradition, from selected contemporary artists and from my own research history. History and the sources of this research show that our visual practices do not emerge from nil or outside the agent: they already belong to visual thinking. The outcome of visual thinking already covers and gives the possibility for visual practice to appear. The research shows that when a cultural practice finds its visual thinking, the meaning is in appearing and in the appearance. The research takes a critical stand towards a kind of reflective thinking, widely known in art education, where the visual thinking is narrowed down to a practical task of reflection. The Western tradition intellectualizes the visual experience, interpreting it as a tool for emotional-life or sublimation. This research emphasizes the responsibility of artist, educator and researcher, they must understand the context they work in and must interpret the relations; thereby the visual nature of experience becomes conditioned. The research argues that it is not necessary to presuppose the phenomena to consider experience visual. Finally, the research gives evidence for appreciation of the outcome of visual thinking as politics of power, involving the right to use one’s own imagination and perceptive skills when deciding and presenting what is visible, and why. However, everyone can take responsibility for one’s visual thinking and make it visible. Visual thinking is related to the stance inherent in contemporary art where intertwining of life and its meanings is needed to assess and to create a discourse on the intertwining itself.
Translated title of the contributionArtistic work and visual thinking : a particular research-history of perception
Original languageFinnish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Varto, Juha, Supervising Professor
  • Varto, Juha, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-7091-9
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-7090-2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • visual thinking
  • artistic work


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