Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of the Arts, English and Media


This thesis of practice-based research begins with a first encounter: the affective provocation of a one hundred year-old pictorial postcard. It draws on a Spinozan-Deleuzian philosophical trajectory of contemporary affect theory in which affect is posited as the generative forces of encounter and the durational passage of those intensities and energies within a vocabulary of becomings. The travelling postcard, named within the project, ‘the Round Table postcard’, is housed in an intergenerational, familial archive in the Queensland tropics: an emplaced material object, and an electric encounter situated in idiolocal country of embodied attunement and connection. The thesis traces the postcard encounter and its becomings as an affective trace, and explores and develops this as a generative modality of creative-critical research and composition.

Embedded within the thesis is a reflective inquiry that engages with affect theory and scholarship. Focus is given to the intersectional potential of affective objects, atmospheres and energies of encounter in the thinking-making-doing of practice. The thesis teases out and articulates a connecting thread of scholarly and poetic response throughout the trace in terms of affective emplacement, synsensorial provocation and ecological discontent. Compositions involve works in ceramics, photomedia, sound, digital video, and crossmedia exhibitions of these as ensemblages. Innovative works developed in the nexus of the translucent materiality of porcelain, LED illumination and photographic ceramic printing draw on and respond to the photographic archive that hosts the surviving postcard. Research and public gallery exhibitions composed from the exploratory oeuvre of the trace are described and reflected on. Explicit connection is made between the affective and the ecological in the context of a localised Anthropocene to suggest a new modality: the shadows trace. This eco-affective trajectory leads to a case study composition of a shadow toponymy. The postcard provocations set in motion an energetic tracery through which the concept of after-affect is proposed and explored as a becoming of an unfinished, lingering affective encounter.

Throughout, the thesis returns to the moments when affect as virtual, transitory yet powerfully generative energy of attunement meets a materially fragile, ephemeral, century-old picture postcard. From the initial material-immaterial provocation, a principal of becoming as an emergent refrain of encounter is heard: a recursive, a-bodied rhythm articulated as pulse_pause. This realisation of the trace vitally informs the compositions of material practice. Final speculations point to the potential of the affective trace as a rich modality of research and practice in the meeting spaces of affect, ecology and contemporary ethico-aesthetics. It is modality that begins and travels—processually and transversally— with encounter, object and movement.

FoR codes (2008)

1901 ART THEORY AND CRITICISM, 1905 VISUAL ARTS AND CRAFTS, 220206 History and Philosophy of Science (incl. Non-historical Philosophy of Science), 220207 History and Philosophy of the Humanities



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.