Looking away: Failure, Embarrassment and Mis-attention in a Performance-related Artistic Practice

Williams, Frances (2020) Looking away: Failure, Embarrassment and Mis-attention in a Performance-related Artistic Practice. Doctoral thesis, University of the Arts London, Falmouth University.

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Abstract / Summary

'Looking away’ is centred on artistic practice that engages with the live and recorded
body as an element of the work in a fine arts context. The project investigates looking
away through three practical conceptualizations of relations between viewer and artwork.
Practical and theoretical concepts and methods that emerge in the work are developed,
applied to the research and evaluated to gain understandings of how looking away
complicates, displaces or repositions those relations. The research is organized between
three modalities of inquiry: failure, embarrassment and mis-attention operating as
departure points while recognising they overlap and complicate each other. Overall, a
multi-dimensional view of relations between viewer and artwork is revealed that is
inherently unpredictable, affected by the contingency of the live body and relational
operation of attention, representation, framing and intention.
Findings on looking away are drawn by testing the investigation against the practical
concepts of layers and frames of attention, the live body and contract and the methods of
improvisatory conditions, hiding the performer and varying the conditions. Key terms that
pertain to the phenomenology of attention, the supplément, the parergon,
embarrassment, self-consciousness, the comic, representation are transformed and
applied to the practical concepts and methods, as a means of rethinking, extending and
developing the practice. The thesis is contextualized through consideration of artworks
that engage or allude to failure, embarrassment or mis-attention ranging between the
rigorous materiality of Alvin Lucier, precise management of attention of Tino Seghal and
the apparent falling out in the work of Tommy Cooper and Jütte Koether.
The thesis aims to contribute to discourses in the field of fine art in developing and rethinking methodologies around fine art practice involving the live body that do not rely
on the primacy of visual attention.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Performance > Theatre > Acting
Performance > Theatre
Courses by Department: Academy of Music & Theatre Arts > Acting
Depositing User: Ailsa Poll
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2023 12:35
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2023 13:34
URI: https://repository.falmouth.ac.uk/id/eprint/4795


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