BNU Thesis Display: Art Without Boundaries

Written by Mikael Bucha

7/4/20235 min read


Every artist struggles with the constraints of their artwork. Whether this is the edges of a canvas or the confines of a field. While these distinctions cannot cease to exist, they can be broadened to a point where the artist can display their freedom of expression. This is what the BNU Interdisciplinary Expanded Design & Art (IEDA) thesis display has succeeded in doing.

What is the Display?

According to the BNU admissions page, “BA (Hons) IEDA programme is actively engaged in redefining what it means to be a cultural and creative practitioner today.” It does so by removing thematic boundaries created by having to choose a single discipline and letting creative minds run free and incorporate their multiple interests into their thesis. The display not only expands artistic boundaries but also empowers artists with their unique creative space, enabling them to explore their exhibit room freely and express their creativity without limitations. This newfound freedom enhances the potential for innovative art displays.

Incorporation of other Disciplines

With the openness of taking the interdisciplinary programme, it’s easy to incorporate significant themes of any other course or field of study into the artistic journey. Artists displaying their art have the unique opportunity to draw inspiration from diverse disciplines such as sociology, psychology, environmental science, technology, literature, and more. This integration of various fields not only enriches their artwork but also encourages a deeper understanding of the complex issues that our world faces today.

Incorporation of other Disciplines: Psychology

One of the many disciplines incorporated into some theses was psychology. The link between psychology and art is a fascinating and multidimensional connection that has been explored by artists, psychologists, and scholars for many years. With the growing use of practices such as art therapy, it comes as no surprise that students would want to explore this relationship with their own thesis displays.

An example of such a display was Zuha Tareen’s ‘Autopsy of a Sentiment’. As the name implies, the theme of this display was to explore human emotional connection through the lens of physical art. The display incorporates disciplines of Visual Art, Psychopathology, and Science Communication. It uses the metaphor of a clinic to give psychoanalysis of the concept of our emotional relationship to objects. She describes her aim as “To investigate emotionality through the language of materials and poetics.”

Incorporation of other Disciplines: Sociology

Within the same realm of social sciences, art has also had a historical link to sociology. Art has always been a means of cultural representation as well as a way to comment on social constructs and identity. Huma Gul’s display shows us just that. With her disciplines including both art and sociology, the display gives a mind-boggling commentary on the hierarchies of society.

The display was more than just a visual spectacle; it ingeniously employed a practical metaphor to illustrate the concept of hierarchy. The video showcased a cotton candy salesman positioned aside a carefully drawn graph on the road, created with chalk. However, there was a catch – in exchange for the cotton candy treat, visitors were required to follow the salesman's instructions and stand wherever he directed them on the graph. This experience not only engaged the audience but also cleverly conveyed the idea of following directions within a hierarchical structure, leaving a lasting impression on all who witnessed it. It gave insight into the social structures around us.

On the other side of this display, we see characters made of cotton candy symbolizing their identity and individuality, but with each passing day during the thesis display, the cotton candy dried up and shrunk to one dried, compressed layer of cotton. They went from symbols of individual identity to merely identical.

This thought-provoking display by Huma Gul serves as a symbol of art's historical link to sociology. It masterfully weaves together visual symbolism and practical metaphor to shed light on the complexities of social constructs and identity.

As the cotton candy characters transform from vibrant symbols of individuality to mere replicas, the artist challenges us to contemplate the impact of hierarchical systems on both a personal and societal level. Through this mesmerizing spectacle, we are urged to reflect on the power dynamics that shape our lives and communities, inspiring us to delve deeper into the intricate fabric of society and the role art plays in reflecting its essence.

Incorporation of other Disciplines: Social Change and Environmentalism

Art has always served as a call for change. Whether it be social, political, economic, environmental, or any such type of change. With the rising issue of climate change and global warming, we find ourselves looking for solutions for this global emergency. Young people are seen carrying the anti-climate change movement by identifying the way and creating innovative alternatives to our current anti-environmental practices. An example of such a solution is the Algae movement. The Algae movement is one that aims to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by utilizing Algae farms, both domestically and commercially.

This project has made models for both home-used and industrial algae farms to replace greenhouse gases with oxygen. This project not only displays a solution, but a way to implement it. It takes initiative by bringing this issue to the government and proposing the Algae Act, a bill that if passed would make industries and factories legally obligated to adapt their factories to the Algae farm and hence reduce their greenhouse emissions by doing so.

Re-inventing Art Display

As we take a look at all these multifaceted and complex displays of art, we get insight into how impactful art can be and what it can do. It forges intimate connections between individuals and objects, while also unveiling the interconnectedness of society's broader mechanisms and workings. It identifies problems, it creates solutions. Art can be found in anything from paintings to craft, psychology to sociology, environmentalism to social activism. The BNU IEDA program shows us art without physical or subjective boundaries. It challenges the capitalist failure of thinking that individuals can only work in one field or discipline and that one has to choose a path of life. The IEDA programme brings this value to interdisciplinary practices, bringing us closer to a less widespread monodisciplinary mindset.