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The simultaneously tautological and oxymoronic nature of word / image relations has become a subject of massive debate in the post-modern period. This is not only because of the increasing predominance of word / image messages within our modern media-saturated culture, but also because intellectual disciplines are becoming increasingly sensitized to the essentially hybrid nature of the way we construct meaning in the world. The essays in this volume offer an exemplary insight into both aspects of this phenomenon. Focussing on both traditional and modern media (theatre, fiction, poetry, graphic art, cinema), the essays of Reading Images and Seeing Words are deeply concerned to show how it is according to signifying codes (rhetoric, poetics, metaphor), that meaning and knowledge are produced. Not the least value of this collection is the insight it gives into the multiple models of word / image interaction and the rich ambiguity of the tautological and oxymoronic relations they embody.
Author: Linda Cummins
Rather than solid frames, some less than perfect aesthetic objects have permeable membranes which allow them to diffuse effortlessly into the everyday world. In the parallel universes of music and literature, Linda Cummins extols the poetry of such imperfection. She places Debussy's work within a tradition thriving on anti-Aristotelian principles: motley collections, crumbling ruins real or fake, monstrous hybrids, patchwork and palimpsest, hasty sketches, ellipses, truncated beginnings and endings, meandering arabesques, irrelevant digressions, auto-quotations. Sensitive to the intermittences of memory and experience and with a keen ear for ironic intrusion, Cummins draws the reader into the Western cultural past in search of the surprisingly ubiquitous aesthetic of the unfinished, negatively silhouetted against expectations of rational coherence. Theories popularized by Schlegel and embraced by the French Symbolists are only the first waypoint on an elaborately illustrated tour reaching back to Petrarch. Cummins meticulously applies the derived results to Debussy's scores and finds convincing correlations in this chiasmatic crossover.
Study of a Transformational Process
Series:  Chiasma, Volume: 8
Perhaps no other art form in the Western world has polarized opinion to the same extent as opera. While its devotees can be almost fanatical in their enthusiasm, its detractors will dismiss lyric theatre as an impossible hybrid. Literature and music undermine one another when brought together, they maintain. Their contempt for the genre is more often than not motivated by the supposedly mediocre quality of the librettos or scripts to which the works are set as well as the implausibility of characters singing instead of speaking their emotions. But what if these much maligned scripts provided composers with the raw material necessary to convert stereotypes into exemplary figures and place them in powerfully dramatic situations? What if the unreality of opera opened up gripping vistas onto the reality of human emotions? When Literature Becomes Opera strives to answer these questions by analyzing the artistic process through which literary texts are simplified then transformed into lyric dramas. Using as examples eight outstanding operas inspired by works of French writers ( Rigoletto, La traviata, Carmen, Thaïs, La Bohème, Tosca, Pelléas et Mélisande and Dialogues des Carmélites), this study demonstrates that a libretto, like a film script, enters into a partnership with the art it serves: music. When the quality of the partnership is high, all of opera's liabilities that purists take pleasure in deriding become stunning assets.
Urban displacement and failed encounters in surrealist and postmodern writing
Author: Daniela Daniele
This book traces the origins of the Postmodern eclectic grammar of linguistic collision back in the Surrealist poetics of ruins. Keeping in mind the images of lost direction in the big city as a central figure in the discussion of both the Modern and Postmodern aesthetics of displacement, Daniele starts comparing the epiphanic encounters of the Baudelairian flâneur in metropolitan Paris - in constant search for the traces of a lost symbolic order - with Breton's enigmatic pursuit of Nadja, the elusive sphinx in the crowd who moves in a mental territory of puzzling condensations and of ineffable objets trouvé. In his visual and written work, Marcel Duchamp was probably the first artist to envision the space of the crowd as a trans-urban, multiple dimension: a cool arena of disjunctive encounters contributing to transform the Surrealist erotic space of desire in a cooler, open field of performance.
Deeply influenced by Duchamp's hybrid aesthetics, American Postmodern writers such as Donald Barthelme and Thomas Pynchon, and the performance artist Laurie Anderson, represent metropolis as a “geographical incest”, as a plural, entropic semiosphere which transcends the notion of urban community to become the tolerant receptacle of an ethnic and discoursive multiplicity, an electronic area of linguistic collisions translatable in new fragmented and unfinished narratives. Evoking the assemblages of Abstract Expressionists, the debris of Simon Rodia “junk art”, and the hybrid language of Postmodern architecture, this neo-Surrealist narrative discourse transforms the epiphanic traces envisioned by the Baudelairian and Bretonian heroes in partial parodies, in enigmatic fragments whose ultimate source transcends the narrator's knowledge. The conceptual strategy which is constitutive of these texts implicitly asks the puzzled reader to disentangle the entropic plots, immerging him in the midst of a “linguistic wilderness,” where all opposites - fact and fiction, man and machine, man and female - enigmatically and humorously coexist.
Words and Images in Futurism and Surrealism
Author: Clara Orban
Works of art such as paintings with words on them or poems shaped as images communicate to the viewer by means of more than one medium. Here is presented a particular group of hybrid art works from the early twentieth century, to discover in what way words and images can function together to create meaning. The four central artists considered in this study investigate word/image forms in their work. F.T. Marinetti invented parole in libertà, among other ideas, to free language from syntactic connections. Umberto Boccioni experimented with newspaper clippings on the canvas from 1912-1915, and these collages constitute an important exploration into word/image forms. André Breton's collection of poems Clair de terre (1923) contains several typographical variations for iconographic effect. René Magritte explored the relationship between words and images, juxtaposing signifiers to contradictory signifieds on the canvas. A final chapter introduces media other than poetry and painting on which words and images appear. Posters, the theater, and the relatively new medium of cinema foreground words and images constantly. This volume will be of interest to scholars of twentieth-century French or Italian literature or painting, and to scholars of word and image studies.
The Visual Impulse in Diderot, Baudelaire and Ruskin
This comparative, interdisciplinary study investigates the relationship between literature and the visual arts in France and Britain from 1750-1900. Through a close examination of the prose writings of Diderot, Baudelaire and Ruskin, read against the background of contemporary philosophy, aesthetics and theories of language, In the Mind’s Eye proposes a new interpretation of the influence and rivalries underlying the development of art criticism as a genre during this period. The visual impulse – the desire to transcend the limitations of language and make the reader see – is located within the historical traditions of ekphrasis, enargeia and the paragone, while in each chapter, the individual author’s theories of the mind, memory and imagination provide a critical framework for his stylistic experiments. In the Mind’s Eye presents an in-depth analysis of the cultural, theoretical and aesthetic implications of artistic border crossings, and by contextualizing the movement toward visual/verbal hybridity in the fiction and criticism of Diderot, Baudelaire and Ruskin, brings new perspectives to nineteenth-century studies in art and literature.
Paradox, Indeterminacy and Consciousness in Art & Poetry
Author: John Danvers
In this book the author takes an unusual multi-disciplinary approach to debates about contemporary art and poetry, ideas about the mind and its representations, and theories of knowledge and being. Arts practices are considered as enactments of mind and as transformative modes of consciousness. Ideas drawn from poetics, philosophy and consciousness studies are used to illuminate the conceptual and aesthetic frameworks of a diverse array of visual artists. Themes explored include: the interconnectedness of existence; art as a way of interrogating appearances; identity and otherness; art and the self as ‘open work’; Buddhist concepts of ‘emptiness’ and ‘suchness’; scepticism, mysticism and the arts; and mind in the landscape. The book contains an important and distinctive visual dimension with photographs and drawings by the author and texts employing unorthodox syntax and layouts that exemplify the themes under discussion. The author hints at a new aesthetics and philosophy of indeterminacy, paradox, uncertainty and discontinuity - a contrarium - in which we negotiate our way through the instabilities and contradictions of contemporary life. Written in a lively and accessible style this volume is of interest to scholars, arts practitioners, teachers and to anyone with an interest in art, poetry, consciousness studies, philosophy and nature.
Artists, poets and philosophers discussed, include: Cy Twombly, Helen Chadwick, John Ruskin, Ad Reinhardt, Richard Long, James Turrell, Anish Kapoor, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Agnes Martin, Land Art, Arte Povera, Minimalism, Charles Olson, Kenneth White, Robin Blaser, Fred Wah, Gary Snyder, RS Thomas, Alice Oswald, John Cage, Jorge Luis Borges, Guy Davenport, Kenneth Rexroth, Heidegger, Marjorie Perloff, Thomas McEvilley, Merleau-Ponty, Spinoza, Wittgenstein, Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco, David Abram, Thomas Merton, Pyrrho & Nagarjuna.
Deleuzian Aesthetics / Esthétiques deleuziennes
A bilingual collection of essays on the aesthetics of Gilles Deleuze, Discern(e)ments highlights what is at stake in Deleuzian philosophy of art. It traces the reception of Deleuzian thought in a broad range of disciplines and gauges its use-value in each of them. Following the dynamics between structure and becoming that punctuates Deleuzian aesthetics, Discern(e)ments sketches and erases boundaries between methods and traditions in philosophy and art theory, as well as in literary, performance and film studies. Offering both numerous case-studies as well as theoretical outlines, Discern(e)ments engages faculties, disciplines and criticisms not in a mere exchange of points of view, but in heterogenesis mapping out further discernments in Deleuzian aesthetics.
In the wake of proliferating discourses around globalisation and culture, some central questions around cultural politics have acquired a commonsensical and hegemonic character in contemporary intellectual discourse. The politics of difference, the possibilities of hybridity and the potential of multiple liminalities frame much discussion around the transnational dimensions of culture and post-identity politics. In this volume, the economic, political and social consequences of the focus on ‘culture’ in contemporary theories of globalization are analysed around the disparate fields of architecture, museum discourse, satellite television, dub poetry, carnival and sub-national theatre. The discourses of hybridity, diaspora, cultural difference minoritization are critically interrogated and engaged with through close analysis of cultural objects and practices. The essays thus intervene in the debate around modernity, globalization and cultural politics, and the volume as a whole provides a critical constellation through which the complexity of transnational culture can be framed. Thinking through the particular, the essays limn the absent universality of forms of capitalist globalization and the volume as a whole provides multiple perspectives from which to enter the singular modernity of our times in all its complexity.
Author: Andrea Mirabile
Paris, 1910-1915. Artists, intellectuals, and international celebrities crowd the city as never before. Decadent dreams and avant-garde manifestos celebrate the marriage between art and life. Creative experiments and vital joy dance hand in hand—on the edge of the abyss of WWI. Gabriele D’Annunzio is one of the highly influential yet semi-forgotten protagonists of this season and an emblem of its contradictions. A child of the Decadence, but also a forerunner of Modernism, the Italian poet defies the barriers between art forms, languages, and aesthetic practices. Tellingly, some of the period’s major figures across the arts are involved in D’Annunzio’s projects, including Canudo, Bakst, Brooks, Debussy, Montesquiou, and Rubinstein. In particular, in his sacred drama Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien, the poet combines French, Italian, literature, theater, mime, dance, music, painting, and cinema in a way that fuses old and new. D’Annunzio’s hybrid experiments challenge Wagner’s ‘total artwork’ theories, search for a synthesis between pictorial stillness and filmic movement, and anticipate contemporary multimedia experiences. These artistic collaborations end suddenly at the outbreak of the Great War, when Dannunzian total artworks migrate from the stage to the battlefield, generating a controversial legacy that calls for renewed critical investigations.