Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

The sensual experience of wonder and enchantment

How do we experience sensual wonder and enchantment and to what extent can (early) modern imagination-techniques be implemented to create an artwork and performance, which offer a sensory and novel experience.

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Doina Kraal

This research addresses the assumption that the different technological environments of today may have changed our sensory experience of the world, and possibly the way in which we experience wonder and enchantment.

Yet at the same time (early) modern techniques such as the 'rarekiek' (peep show), perspective boxes, cinema, virtual reality, and 3D techniques, provide ways for creating mesmerizing (fictional) realities. Activating the imagination is often connected with (imagination) techniques, however, these techniques may not necessarily always evoke a multi-sensory and wondrous experience.

In her research project Kraal investigates and questions how we experience sensual wonder and enchantment and to what extent (early) modern imagination-techniques can be implemented to create an artwork and performance, which offer a sensory and novel experience. In her art practice, Kraal addresses a state of in-betweenness and curiosity. Wonder is associated with the unexpected, the unknown and the incapacity of categorization. Enchantment and wonder relate to each other in the sense that both imply a state of uncertainty and ambiguity. It is this unclear area where one finds oneself in-between, when one is yet without judgment, which makes an experience enchanting and wondrous.

In this research project, the historical 'rarekiek' (16th century and onwards) acts as a case study to investigate the multimedial character of early modern media and the sensory experience they offered. In contrast to most contemporary imagination-techniques, the 'rarekiek' had performative, bodily, interactive, tactile and sensitive aspects. This research aims to get an understanding of the role of wonder and enchantment in relation to media archaeology, through the investigation of techniques, which stimulate the senses and the imagination in various forms and by creating a contemporary installation and performance.
 

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