Contemporary Design

Amorphous Form – Tentative Verbalization in the Context of Art by Sini Henttu

How could art and its verbalization live side by side, supporting each other?
A grid made up of variations of the same photograph. Each of the photographs shows a progression of a hand caressing a red, velvet armchair.
Photo by Sini Henttu


People often talk about how art does not translate into words. However, artists must constantly verbalize their artistic work in various forms and situations. This master's thesis delves into this contradiction - how could art and its verbalization live side by side, supporting each other? The research is relevant for the makers of art and those who work with the verbalization of art.

The research was motivated by the friction the author experienced between the non-verbal and the verbal, as well as the different worlds of making art and verbalizing art. The thesis asks what happens when art is verbalized?

The thesis is artistic research and is written from the artist's perspective. Its methods include artistic production, autoethnography, art experiences and semi-structured artist interviews. The thesis consists of an artistic production, an exhibition, and a theoretical part.

Through the thesis came an understanding that the verbalization of art is multifaceted. Verbalization sometimes narrows or truncates art, but sometimes words also support, expand and layer it. Verbalization can serve as a tool in making art in different stages of the artistic process, and it can also serve as a tool when considering different contents and materialities of art.
The thesis proposes tentative verbalization as an empathetic and ethical gesture of art verbalization. Tentative verbalization does not force art under words, but rather reaches towards it, experimenting with different forms and tones in an interactive relationship with art. This enables the connection of art making and verbalization, and them to grow from each other despite their different natures. The thesis also asks concrete questions to support the verbalization of art. The questions have been formulated in the final phase of the research based on the understanding accumulated during the process.

The thesis reflects on the function of verbalizing art, and it is useful for those interested in the verbalization of art. It creates understanding of both: the possibilities and the problematics of verbalizing art.

Installation made up of hanging pieces of white paper being pierced by a long, red string that piles up underneath.
Photo by Laura Tornroos
Multi channel installation made up of several screens. Each screen shows a close-up of different parts of a body against a light pink background.
Photo by Laura Tornroos
Installation view. A red velvet armchair is illuminated from above. A red piece of fabric hanging from the ceiling and piling up on the ground, where a small yellow ball sits on top.
Photo by Laura Tornroos
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