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Title: Play in the theory and practice of art
Authors: Zimna, Katarzyna
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: © Katarzyna Zimna
Abstract: This thesis focuses on the notion of play in the theory and practice of art in the 20th and 21st centuries. I approach play both as an internal element of the concept of art (following the philosophical tradition) and as the external model for the creative process (as applied by modern and postmodern artists). The main purpose is to produce an interpretation of play that would span various, often contradictory, features of this concept and would serve to reinterpret the notion of artistic representation, traditionally linked with the vocabulary and approaches coming from the domain of work (production, mastery, preconceived outcomes, fixity, and the nature/culture dichotomy). My thesis defends representation, however, supplemented with the notion of play. In my project of highlighting the role of play in the discourse of art and aesthetics, I draw on Jacques Derrida's reading of Kant and Plato. Derrida s analysis of the logic of supplementarity in Western thought and terms such as parergon, pharmakon and undecidable, help me to argue that the ambivalence of play and the movement in between the opposites allow us to understand play as a condition of artistic representation. I also use Mihaly Spariosu's distinction between the interpretations of play as rational or prerational to inscribe play into the argument between representation and non-representation in the theory and practice of art. In terms of practice, I link the emergence of the strategy of play with the rhetorics of primitivism in modern avant-gardes from Dada to Fluxus. I analyse play as a tool of transgression and an attractive supplement of the creative process a way to activate the public and change the traditional proper function (ergon) of art. I trace the assimilation of play in recent participatory (relational, dialogic) art intended to go beyond representation. I argue that play has become a commonly used tactic and an undercurrent of today's artistic and social network. In the final discussion I reinterpret the notions of work (ergon, essence) and play (parergon, supplement) in the light of the 20th century artistic revolution. Using vocabulary and approaches coming from the domain of play (and specifically Role-Playing Game) I attempt to overcome the prejudice against the notion of representation.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/6277
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Arts)

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