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Murphy - An Exploration Of Silence
Alexandra Murphy, PhD student

The Death-Drive: An Exploration Of Silence

Through research and practice, this project investigates the visual and aural representations of the elusive, silent death-drive.
Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical writings explore the death-drive as an instinct that urges life back toward the state of nothingness, that inorganic state we started out from. Freud writes about the struggle in life between the life-instinct (Lebenstrieb) and the opposing death instinct (Todestrieb), the former seeking to discharge the tensions of the death drive, which in turn strives to increase the tension.

According to Deleuze (1967), the life experience must be a combination of both the death-drive (Thanatos) and its symbiotic otherness, the life-drive (Eros). It is the active force of Eros that binds and supports the ‘ground-less’, silent and terrible energy of Thanatos. Thus, there cannot be one drive without the other. Where the life-drive seeks to preserve life, the death-drive pushes life back toward an inanimate or silent state. Therefore, this project examines the space or connection between the two triebe, as it is this dualism that defines each of them.

The death-drive works unobtrusively and in silence and it is these characteristics that make the creative response so challenging - quieting the creative process right down to find the energy between the two instincts. In writing about the death-drive, Royle (2003, p86) states that, “exploring the tacit or unspoken elements of a text or institution can alter our understanding of its structure, transform its meanings and effects”.  Thus, this project investigates both the obvious as well as the unstated through film, audio and still photographs as well as in a written thesis study.