Dr Peter Waller - Art of Doubt, Emptiness, and the Unconscious

Peter Waller’s installations appear austere, are often dimly lit, and made with pale, cold tones and time-worn materials. The walls are scoured or begrimed. This amounts to a moody kind of formalism, and is the product of long research into ancient Eastern artistic traditions of otherworldliness and open-endedness aimed at achieving wakefulness, and cultivating illuminating doubt. Waller’s art, then, is an ongoing effort to adapt these methods and concerns to the contemporary practice of installation.

Waller holds a PhD with the University of Tasmania. He has exhibited across Tasmania and has participated in residencies here and overseas.

Iain McGilchrist and David Abram share a concern that we live in an era of unbalance. Our relationship to the world is dominated by thinking characteristic of the left hemisphere—analytical, abstracting, detached—thus alienating us from the mysterious more-than-human world in which we live. Furthermore, this kind of thinking engenders a preference for certainty, which, even scientists suggest, is illusory.

Myth, by contrast, is or once was ‘life- sustaining illusion’, in Joseph Campbell’s words. Mythic strangeness and otherworldliness in ritual spaces were ancient instruments of fruitful doubt.

My research, then, explores how a contemporary installation practice can function as myth by non-discursive means; or rather, how an ostensibly formalist installation can insinuate the quality of mythic atmosphere, a realm of unknowing and ambiguity (states quite distinct from utter bewilderment).

With the understanding that the antidote for illusory certainty may be fictional uncertainty, I researched neurology and psychology to get a picture (it will only ever be an incomplete one) of how we come to know the world. From there I could explore ways in which a given space could be made a little unknowable. This is my preoccupation to date.

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