PhD title:

“Making Beyond Nothingness: An Artistic Challenge to the Unaesthetic Language of the Public Space.”

This project constituted a practice-based research enquiry of two interrelated components: an exhibition of creative work, Nothing Matters, and an accompanying exegesis. The creative work on exhibition comprised a range of small- and large-scale outputs that incorporate drawing, photography, sculptural work, and re-imagined ‘found’ objects, all produced between 2017-2021.

 The overall title of the project, Making Beyond Nothingness: An Artistic Challenge to the Unaesthetic Language of the Public Space, embodies the paradox at the heart of the pursuit. How to create ‘something’ of conceptual and aesthetic compulsion from a language of nothingness, whether it be ‘found’ in the surrounding temper of the public space or, in art, in various manifestations of the ‘dematerialised object’: the void; the empty canvas or gallery; the ‘invisible’ work; or the detritus of the everyday?

The written component – the ‘dissertation’ – traces my style through points of reference in the development of Conceptual Art (Chapter 1) before turning, more generally, to examples of my previous work (Chapter 2) and, in Chapter 3, specifically to my reflections on the creative works that form the exhibition.

The phrase, Nothing Matters, embodied the paradox at the heart of my endeavour. At one level, the words suggest negation; at another level, the phrase invokes a more philosophical consideration that is linked to a history of artistic thought and practice. How to create artefacts that use the language of nothing, the void, the blank, the omitted, the interpretation of nothingness, as a vehicle to oppose the ‘unaesthetic’ language of the public space? What has been called ‘nothingness in art’ suggests not so much a homogeneous movement as a trajectory that began in the early part of the 20th century and which has retained notable markers in various art movements, since. 

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We’re governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organised. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.

They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of per­ sons-a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.”

– Bernays E.L. 1928. Propoganda. p 8-10. New York. Horace Liveright.

“The culture industry misuses its concern for the masses in order to duplicate, reinforce and strengthen their mentality, which it presumes is given and unchangeable. How this mentality might be changed is excluded throughout. The masses are not the measure but the ideology of the culture industry, even though the culture industry itself could scarcely exist without adapting to the masses. The cultural commodities of the industry are governed, as Brecht and Suhrkamp expressed it thirty years ago, by the principle of their realization as value, and not by their own specific content and harmonious formation. The entire practice of the culture industry transfers the profit motive naked onto cultural forms. Ever since these cultural forms first began to earn a living for their creators as commodities in the market-place they had already possessed something of this quality.” – Theodor Adorno  from “The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture” London: Routledge, 1991

work in progress: “The Beginning Always Has an End 2007-2017.”
“You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about? … Do you want to know what it is?… The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. … That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind. … Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. … This is your last chance. After this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember, all I’m offering is the truth, nothing more. … Follow me.”      – Morpheus: The Matrix (1999)

“If we have brains or courage, then we are blessed and called on not to frit these qualities away, standing agape at the ideas of others, winning pissing contests, improving the efficiencies of the neo-corporate state, or immersing ourselves in obscuranta, but rather to prove the vigor of our talents against the strongest opponents of love we can find.” – Julian Assange

“The crux of Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon and the impetus behind its design was to create a structure that enabled a singular watcher to have an unobstructed view of everything that existed within view of the watchtower, effectively becoming the eye of God. In modernity, advances in technology have made large-scale observation possible on scales that vastly exceed anything  Bentham  could  have  predicted.  The  rise  of  the  modern  security  state  allows governments  and  powerful  corporations  to  observe  behaviors  and  trends  in  citizens  and consumers to more easily control them and to enforce checks on transgressive behavior. There are very few public places that do not have some form of security camera or CCTV, and any time one connects to the Internet, their traffic is monitored by various markers for reasons of commerce and security. The practice of panopticism has now spread beyond institutions, be those the traditional Benthamite prisons and workhouses or in the wider, more Foucaultian sense, any institution that exercises disciplinary power and conditioning, and outward to first the authorities that control the aforementioned institutions and then still further to the states that control even those authorities.”

– Sheridan, Connor, “Foucault, Power and the Modern Panopticon”. Senior Theses, Trinity College, Hartford, CT 2016. Trinity College Digital Repository,


Me looking at you looking at me: Lightbeam is an add-on for Firefox that displays third party tracking cookies placed on the user’s computer while visiting various websites. It displays a graph of the interactions and connections of sites visited and the tracking sites to which they provide information.
“To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul – would you understand why that’s much harder?”  ― Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

work in progress: Dark Matter (Political Landscape 2017-)

“It is an error to divide people into the living and the dead: there are people who are dead-alive, and people who are alive-alive. The dead-alive also write, walk, speak, act. But they make no mistakes; only machines make no mistakes, and they produce only dead things. The alive-alive are constantly in error, in search, in questions, in torment.” – Yevgeny Zamyatin, A Soviet Herectic

Vial of Useless Information (2014), acrylic tube, brass, paper, 1000 x 60mm Ø

“It isn’t a coincidence that governments everywhere want to educate children. Government education, in turn, is supposed to be evidence of the state’s goodness and its concern for our well-being. The real explanation is less flattering. If the government’s propaganda can take root as children grow up, those kids will be no threat to the state apparatus. They’ll fasten the chains to their own ankles.”

― Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.

“We are students of words: we are shut up in schools, and colleges, and recitation -rooms, for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bag of wind, a memory of words, and do not know a thing.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive, and so on — because they’re dysfunctional to the institutions.”

― Noam Chomsky


      – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1849)

Theodor Adorno argued that humans in modern society are programmed at work and in their leisure, and though they seek to escape the monotony of their workplace, they are merely changing to another piece of the machine – from producer to consumer. There is no chance of becoming free individuals who can take part in the creation of society, whether at work or play.

Leonard Cohen - The Night Comes On

We were fighting in Egypt
When they signed this agreement
That nobody else had to die
There was this terrible sound
And my father went down
With a terrible wound in his side
He said, Try to go on
Take my books, take my gun
Remember, my son, how they lied
And the night comes on
It’s very calm
I’d like to pretend that my father was wrong
But you don’t want to lie, not to the young

Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of a regular government.

-Jeremy Bentham

We don’t need no education

We don’t need no thought control

No dark sarcasm in the classroom

Teacher leave them kids alone

Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone!

All in all it’s just another brick in the wall

“For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit.”

   – Noam Chomsky, Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on Post-9/11 World

“Things are not always what they seem; first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.”


– Phaedrus


“It should not really be surprising that modern artists are fascinated with nothing. It is a very human attribute to be beguiled by what we do NOT have, often more than what we do have. In the world of exploration, nothing would be the ulimate unknown area: across the frontier from where we are to where we and everything else disappears. To where we cannot be.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           – Ronald Green, Nothing Matters

Nothing Matters - Solo Exhibition

A Practice-Based Research for the degree of PhD in Visual and Performing Arts

 400 Sydney Road, Durban, South Africa

September 2021 – June 2022