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Contingencies : visualizing tensions between contemporary critical theory and Canadian art practice

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Contingencies : visualizing tensions between contemporary critical theory and Canadian art practice

Douglas, Susan (1998) Contingencies : visualizing tensions between contemporary critical theory and Canadian art practice. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This thesis represents a practical exposition of some of the most urgent debates in contemporary art history. Focussing on deconstruction, formalism, and cultural theory as critical methodologies within the theory of art, it examines a range of cultural expressions and contemporary currents of thought relative to the problem of vision and visuality. As a terrain of enquiry whose key words emerge in this account as representation, reception, and identity politics, vision and visuality (here called visualism) in the literature refers to four things: a critical standpoint, a rejection or retreat from authority, a symbol or iconology, visibility as alterity. Thus from the perspective of new enquiries visualism emerges as a key category of postmodern analysis. As a discourse, it shapes the contingencies that, in this assessment would productively reformulate the relationship of theory with current visual art practices. The problem of the visual is at the same time the problem of a split between art and cultural theory, also between art production and the theory of art. Hence it can be productively reformulated as a model for performing or negotiating a form of disruptive linkage; this is what brings this study to a critical sense of the potentialities of thinking beyond postmodern representation as a strategic counterproduction. The work, then, articulates several implicated connections. For example, the linguistic and graphic elements at work in the interpretation of visual texts; the materiality of art-objects and the situatedness of experience that co-determine artistic production and the reception of meaning; a sense of process that renders theory as contingency, i.e. as indeterminate, mythical, and continually in flux. The work advances by thinking the conjunctions between individual art theorists (Jacques Derrida, Michael Fried, and Svetlana Alpers) and representative Canadian artists: Geneviève Cadieux, Attila Richard Lukacs, and Robert Houle. Since this dissertation expresses a series of possibilities beyond conventional aesthetic and discursive reductions, a process, a theory, and a method, its best description is as a conduit for new alignments, meanings, conditions, and effects

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Douglas, Susan
Pagination:viii, 165 leaves, [30] leaves of plates : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (Ph.D.)
Program:School of Graduate Studies
Date:1998
Thesis Supervisor(s):Ross, Christopher
ID Code:409
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:11
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:14
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