Charles Gagnon is enrolled in the Special Individualized Programs (SIP) Doctoral Program.
His research centres on the role of touch in the making of art. Many recent texts on the sense of touch have widened the everyday definition of touching, by making use of the term haptic. In many cases this has lead towards a turning away from the simple interaction between hand and matter, and prioritizing the ineffable. My research is about trying to articulate the pleasures one finds in making things, through direct touching and engagement with matter and things.
This interdisciplinary doctoral research examines art making by approaching it via art historical texts, along with current research in material culture and anthropology of the senses, putting an emphasis on the processes and techniques of making, as explored mainly through the work of art historian Georges Didi-Huberman and philosopher Gilbert Simondon. Accompanying the written thesis, will be a series of my own drawings serving as research material for the thesis itself, and also, as an alternate method for describing the sense of touch. For the sense of touch to exist as a subject, it needs to exist as description, relying on the richness of words to point towards something that exists at all time. My artwork will expand beyond the words of the text, serving as an indicator of touching and making, while also reflecting that writing itself is as much an indicator of touching and making, both techniques being closely related. Artists such as Liz Magor, Franz West, Lygia Clark, and General Idea offer various ways to approach the subject of touch, either by producing objects with traditional methods such as moulding and casting; using touch as a performative/therapeutic event; or by mimicking mass produced media, such as the vinyl record and various ephemerae, which were explored by Conceptual artists. These Conceptual ephemerae are very important as vehicle for revealing the importance of touching, as they were designed to travel from hand to hand.
Charles defended his doctoral thesis with distinction in August 2012 and received his Ph.D. at Fall Convocation.