A philosopher offers a way to evaluate performance art
For an Audience
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This is an examination of the criteria for identifying, evaluating, and appreciating art forms that require performance for their full realization. Unlike his contemporaries, Paul Thom concentrates on an analytical approach to evaluating music, drama, and dance.
Separating performance art into its various elements enables Thom to study its nature and determine essential features and their relationships. Throughout the book, he debates traditional thought in numerous areas of the performing arts. He argues, for example, against the invisibility of the performer"the vehicle of representation in performance"then critiques Diderot's Paradox of Performance, calling it "the most extreme formulation of the traditional valorization," and declaring that such thinking must be abandoned.
Developing several lines of reasoning regarding music, Thom considers questions of incompleteness and authenticity in relation to the score, the score's function, and the sense in which musical performances are interpreted, or are open to interpretation. It is this audience interpretation that is the final ingredient in the blending and interrelating of the performers, the performance, and the audience. Thom discusses the impact of music, drama, and dance performances on audiences, and evaluates their expectations, reception, and interpretations. He contends that audiences play an active role as interpreters, without becoming performers themselves.
Part I: Performing a Work
1. Works for Performance
2. Performance without Works
3. The Value of the Work
Part II: Performance as Representation
5. Performance without Representation
6. The Value of Representation
Part III: Beholding a Performance
8. Beholding without Performance
9. The Value of Performance
Paul Thom is head of the Philosophy Department, The Faculties, Australian National University.
In the series
The Arts and Their Philosophies, edited by Joseph Margolis.
The volumes in The Arts and Their Philosophies, edited by Joseph Margolis, include: overviews of such well-defined sub-disciplines as the philosophy of music, film, and literature; studies of important figures, schools, and movements; monographs on such topics as postmodernism, texts and interpretation, reference in fiction, and the methodology of art history; explorations of the intersection of the arts and other disciplines, such as feminism and interpretation, art and politics; and translations of major works.