‘Altered Representations’ Research Project


I am grateful for an opportunity to present my thesis proposal on my selected research problem. I believe my properly timed research study will enable me to put into practice my research skills learnt in classroom as well as acquire new ones. It will also add value to the intellectual progress of our important academic field. An opportunity to conduct this study is a precious chance for me to make my knowledge practical and thus useful to my scholarly community and the wider society. I have chosen the topic ‘Altered Representations’.

My research project will be on the topic ‘Altered representations’.

Theme and Objective

An altered representation is an idea on the relationships between our present condition(s) of mind and our representation of a given single object. From an academic point of view it is therefore a study of how our present status of mind influences how an individual like an artist or designer represents a given object. It is common knowledge that our mind is the main control unit that regulates the way we perceive objects and even the way we represent them pictorially, graphically and otherwise.

It is therefore paramount to note that a change of our usual and normal state(s) of mind inevitably affects the way we represent objects and my intended research project is justified and based on the realization of this fact. The main objective of our research project is to show how altered states of mind affect our representations of a single object. The project shall also help me in identifying ways through which designers as well as artists can avoid conditions which may adversely affect the way they perceive and represent an object. I will also get an opportunity to identify and recommend other research gaps which are empirically testable in the fields of design and psychology.

Relevance of the Topic

From psychological point of view human beings believe themselves to see, recognize and perceive things as they are. This proven scientific fact underlies the importance of an individual’s representation of an object in various ways.Suprisingly though we are not aware of the fact that fluctuations or variations of our own state of mind depend on various conditions and that this factor has a profound influence on our means of perception and representation. So that the way you perceive an object under normal and usual states of mind may completely be changed by certain conditions to the extent you see, recognize the same object totally different. And if you are called upon to represent the same object you are used to representing clearly and in manner that is generally accepted by you recipients you will do it in a completely new and strange way.

Lack or inadequacy of this information brings about the need of research on how altered states of our minds influence our means of perception, recognition and representation. Thus our topic is important because it shall provide valuable information that can be used by experts of human mind in coming up with methods of dealing with patients with conditions of mind that alters the way they represent objects. Academically, it shall help in identifying other related areas which are empirically testable and whose study can add value to our understanding and knowledge of how the human mind operates in relation to external factors surrounding it. Through self-Induction of altered states of mind, it is possible for me to give evidence to this fact. In the end scholars such as psychologists, designers and artists may find this analysis relevant.


My interest in this topic was motivated by the works of the artist known as Vincent Van Gogh and the British illustrator Louis Wain. I was surprised as an Art and Design expert to learn that their states of mind had profound impacts on the way they represented objects. This realization drove me to imagining that there is an intricate or elaborate relationship between our states of mind and the way we perceive, recognize and even represent a single object especially as designers and artists as well as ordinary individuals.

Specifically I learnt that painting works from Vincent Van Gogh represented in his productions were affected by his state of mind. I also read articles about the British illustrator Louis Wain.From these articles I learnt that since he was young he used to Draw and paint cats for newspapers, calendars, albums and postcards. When he was 57 years old he was diagnosed with a mental disorder and as his mental illness progressed his representations of cats became increasingly deformed, distorted and wildly coloured.

Because of these findings, I have come to realize that there are several opportunities to represent a single object differently under different states of mind. This has been the impetus of my peculiar interest in this topic mainly because as a designer I would like to find out how altered states of minds may affect the way designers and artists represent a given object they are used to representing.

Culture and History Work Thesis

It is obvious that culture and history are closely related to the extent that it is safe to argue that where there is no culture there is no history. On the one hand culture refers to the way of living within a given community that defines its value system, patterns of interactions, and the way individuals react to different situations and how different roles and responsibilities are shared and carried out in that culture or community. Any human community whether big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor has an ideal way of living or simply put a culture. Indeed, that culture forms and provides the parameters within which individual members are taught and conditioned to think in terms of recognizing and perceiving different life phenomena.

On the other had we can define history in the context of our research study as a record of the past human activities and events which acts as the manifestation of a peoples thoughts and perceptions of the world surrounding them in the past in a given culture or community. So that culture may be looked at as the means through which a people manipulates the environment so that it can provide for their needs and thus the means through which people make their history.

Since cultural elements are a manifestation of a peoples ideals in terms of intelligence and perceptions while history to a philosophical observer is a manifestation of peoples thoughts in the past, under the topic culture and history I would like to research on kind of cultural and historical circumstances that affect our interpretations,behaviours,emotions and states of mind. It is well to remember that we are engaging in investigating the relationship between the mind and representation of an object and the mind which is the main subject matter of our study is essentially subjective. Thus our interpretations, behaviors and emotions which are fundamentally a manifestation of our minds are bound to be influenced by our unique cultural and historical experiences. The need to carry out such a research is anchored on the fact that culture is handed down from one generation to the other and that achievements and failures of the past generation which is our history end up having far reaching impacts on the way we recognize, perceive and even represent our present world. History it is said serves the present and thus it is possible for me as a scholar to show the relationship between our thinking or mind and interpretations, behaviors and emotions.

Practical-Creative Thesis Work

In this topic, I will perform experiments on my self with a view to finding out how altered states of mind affect my way of representing an object. Induction of altered states of mind will be achieved by reaching certain conditions that affect my sobriety or somberness. For example conditions like drinking alcohol, sleep deprivation, hunger induction, physicals exhaustion waking up at random hours and sensory deprivation shall be tested.

The intention will be to document how these self-induced states-of –mind alterations affect the representation of a certain object. Understanding this first hand is very important to me as a designer and will enable me identify situations under which I can present an image vividly and attractively. Similarly I will identify when to avoid representing an object so as to avoid embarrassment and wastage of time and energy through repetitive work. It will also assist me and others in identifying factors that may cause a poor representation of given piece of design or art work.


My success will be based on the observable differences. That is the difference between the object represented under unaltered states of mind and one represented under altered states of mind through self-induction. Experts will measure my success by discovering clear visual differences among various steps in the representation of san object under altered states of mind. They will find and see how the states of mind play a decisive role in determining how an object or image is represented by an individual.


The project is scheduled to take place between the month of January and March this Year assuming all other factors remain constant. The simple table below shows various events and the appointed time when they shall be conducted.

January Research Drawings and art works of creators which has certain conditions related to mind through history.
February Refine research findings by way of identifying and selecting what I need and start writing my thesis.
March onwards Begin practical Experiments


The research project is estimated to cost the following amount of money indicated in the table below. However, additional funds awarded to make the project more effective and accurate will be highly appreciated.

Detail Cost in US Dollars
Information Gathering inclusive of travel $180
Stationery $50
Professional Consultation $50
Practical Experiments $30
Typing & printing $120
Miscellaneous costs $50