Ellen Schroven, PhD in the Arts

The PhD research O or the Translation of a Circle explores the possibilities how personal and seemingly trivial experiences and meetings can be staked to activate an artistic layer of meaning that can surpass the singular. The starting point is a growing collection of daily observations and reflections, on the one hand recorded by means of a camera – in moving images and stills – and on the other hand noted down in short texts and drawings. The collected words and images are always rooted in a specific way of seeing, which is given space during walks without destination or wanderings into unknown territory.

The discursive part of the research consists of two books. In the first one, the collected fragments are presented chronologically and provided with numbers. These refer to texts in the second book, elaborating various themes spread throughout the research as a common thread, such as melancholy, the concept of time and the relationship between image and language. These subjects are explored with the aid of works by (amongst others) Patricia de Martelaere, Cy Twombly and Rainer Maria Rilke. Both books are connected through a numeric system, but can also be read autonomously. The first part can be considered as an artistic diary (2011-2017), the second as a Continuous Train Journey, during which divergent thoughts appear in rapid succession.

A Swamp above the Earth is the central installation in the PhD exhibition O or the Imaging of a Sound. It presents the research by means of ten wooden tables on which compositions visualise connections between a selection of texts and images. The tables are positioned in accordance with Hexagram 45, a symbol from I Ching or The Book of Changes, which symbolises the act of collecting. A part of the Continuous Train Journey is written in pencil on one of the walls. During the exhibition words are erased with white paint on a daily basis, with the exception of the letter ‘o’. Landscapes appear and dissapear again, until – at the finissage – only a field of o’s is left: a new beginning heralded by a blank ending.


  • Prof. dr. Stéphane Symons (supervisor, KU Leuven)
  • Prof. dr. Bart Geerts (co-supervisor, KU Leuven/LUCA)

Research Unit: Inter-Actions

Duration: 2010 - 2018