Term of Award

Winter 2000

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)


Department of Fine Arts

Committee Chair

Bruce E. Little

Committee Member 1

Richard Tichich

Committee Member 2

Julie McGuire


This thesis project is an exploration of voyeurism -- in particular an unwanted intrusion into our private lives in a place where we feel most secure: our homes. The false sense of security given by the walls and windows of our homes is an insufficient barrier against those in our society who wish to intrude into our lives, our private moments, our seclusion. The cultural aberration of voyeurism provides an interesting societal phenomenon for the artist to investigate. While there may be parallels in other cultures, this issue will be addressed only as we know and experience it in the United States.

The definition of "voyeurism" for this thesis is not interpreted in the strictly Freudian sense, which categorizes voyeurism as a process for sexual gratification. Redefining the term, voyeurism, and modifying it as a phenomenon of the twentieth and twenty-first century culture and technology, I have further broadened the original taboo associated with the sexual act to include psychological and emotional dimensions.

In the context of voyeurism, a link between the viewer and the work must exist to give full meaning to the concept, i.e., neither can stand alone. The subject needs a viewer and the viewer needs a subject. Further, a psychological as well as a visual bond exists between the viewer and the work. The format I developed for the series of art works is intended to heighten the psychological tension between the observer and the observed. In each work the viewer is placed in the role of a voyeur, who, through a window, observes a private moment in someone's life.

The paintings are constructed as window boxes through which the viewer looks upon a scene inside the "window." The observed party would be completely unaware, almost as if the window was an opaque surface providing privacy and security for the subject being observed. The window motif establishes a unity between the two and yet at the same time inserts layers or planes creating a more physical three-dimensional environment. A physical barrier remains present yet is easily transcended by visual and psychological projections of the observer. The window format also roots the act in a real life context as mirrored in media reported incidents.

The subjects in the painting would be painted in a style of "magic realism" to convey a sense of immediate recognition. The works present the human figure in a contemporary environment at a private moment and unaware of scrutiny. The painting is constructed in layers or planes. The base layer is the painting itself on which the scene being observed is presented. The painting is contained by a raised frame on which the second layer, the window itself, is placed. The final element of the composition is the viewer who observes the subject through the window from a third plane.

The theme of voyeurism provided a wealth of incidents that were drawn from actual events to present as a series of works. There were a sufficient variety of events to permit a broad artistic and technical exploration. The issue was socially relevant and currently in vogue as an entertainment source. The window box motif is an effective visual device. It creates the circumstance in which the painting is viewed. Each work yields only enough information to provoke the viewer's thoughts and consequently to draw their own conclusion. The picture's story is completed by the observer and that was the original intention behind each work: to provoke thought in the mind of the viewer. The implication of voyeurism made the observer a participant in the situation presented in the painting and although the participation was not a physical one, it was a psychological and emotional one.


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