I shudder to think: performance as philosophy

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Cameron, Margaret (2012) I shudder to think: performance as philosophy. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Margaret Cameron’s artistic practice performs as philosophy—an investigation that seeks insight through the body’s visceral capacities to perceive and to transform experience into material realities, which then become the substance of art. In order that this research project may take a congruent (or kind of equivalent) form to its proposition, this journey through Cameron’s practice is also a dramaturgical mapping. The research begins with an introduction that provides autobiographical context, proceeding to an exposition of methodology. This is followed by an excavation of an exegetical voice from personal, cultural and philosophical contexts, and arrives at a viva voce that is the performance score for a work of theatre called Opera for a small mammal. Set in the context of contemporary performance and a working life, the research traverses Cameron’s solo artistic practice from 1989 to 2012. A methodology for the overall thesis is demonstrated and enacted through strategies that serve as tools to delay closure and generate possibilities. This methodology includes the consideration of consciousness as performance. Linguistic practices are used to engage language as a perceptual instrument to hold open paradox, endure ambiguity and leverage new relationships between things. The thesis is constructed as a composition of carefully held parts, and parts of parts, that perform many perspectives of the subject in a discursive play between works. Engaging with perceptual practices and provocations from artists, theorists, philosophers, critics and colleagues, the reader is invited to participate with the artist in the perceptual encounters that conceive each work. These include the transformation of one’s self and the thinking, feeling and kinaesthetic events of live performance on a stage. This stage is underscored as a perceptual space that is active—a practising proposition that works in the body of the artist, the audience and the larger corpus of cultural reception. Perceiving many perspectives in space, poising relationships on an axis of form and content, the artist works through a synergy of modes of knowing, such as thinking, intuition, memory and feeling. These are underpinned by the proposition that art is a verb. Art invites us to audience, and it does so through unique and reciprocal acts of participation rather than spectatorship.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/25677
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
Historical > FOR Classification > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing
Keywords Margaret Cameron, drama, autobiography, culture, theatre, plays, dance, literature, art, poetry, Bang! a critical fiction, Knowledge and Melancholy, The Proscenium, El Proscenio
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