For most of my life I was only into books. As a kid as far as I was concerned literature was the truest and most direct form of artistic expression; after all, how could we express ourselves if not through words? As a child, my parents read to me and my brothers every night, and it was there that I acquired a profound love for words: their flow, their timbre, their very meaning. Indeed, there was a time when I used to deride other art forms, especially visual arts, as inefficient at conveying meaning and therefore inferior to writing.
While books will always have a special place in my heart, these last few years I am becoming increasingly aware of the other art forms. The writers’ contexts class of my third year, for example, helped me understand the power of the visual arts; going to the opera at the RNCM back in my first year opened my eyes to the power of musical theatre, as did my friendships with people like Becca Young and charlotte. And of course, I am now a confirmed cinephile. I feel that I have become more eclectic in my tastes, and would like to branch out.
Film and film theory fascinates me, as books once did, but film is nothing if not eclectic. It is a language, but not in the sense of natural language; it incorporates all other art forms, photographic, linguistic, musical; it holds sway over all of us like no other art forms, save perhaps for music. Writing my Masters’ thesis has caused me to become even more fascinated with film; how people watch it, act upon it. But it was Ricardo’s masters which caused be to become fascinated too with the other side of the screen, what goes into a performance, the very human, physical, emotional side of theatre. His adaptation of 100 years of solitude was performed in the round, making in more tangible than other art forms. How one viewed the performance was entirely dependent on where one sat, making it wholly different from what can be termed the 2d art forms, or even traditional stage theatre. Watching this performance develop over a matter of weeks made me much more interested in the performing arts: how they develop, the ideas behind them, how they relate to a wider artistic philosophy. For example, are performance reliant on the idea of the contingent, as film is according to Bazin? Barthes wrote of the photograph sometimes being possessed of punctum – the accident that wounds; Keathley develops this idea in his ‘cinephiliac moment’: can theatre be founded on something similar? On the other hand, how can something with a limited duration like a performance have an equivalent of the punctum, which in part is endowed to the photo through it’s unchanging, eternal nature? Can something which can be experienced from more than one position be punctic? I think so, because punctum is personal, but how can this be dealt with in terms of wider artistic theory? Moreover, do the audio arts music, singing, opera – have an artistic equivalent of the punctum? (I guess we all have our favourite musical phrases) How, then, are the arts related? What do they have in common? How do their differences effect their philosophy? I am highly interested in the theory behind such art forms, not just in the artistic product which expresses it.
I have also become more interested in the new forms of artistic expression are fast developing on the web: of course, there will always be the traditional art forms, but online these art forms are being used in new and exciting ways. People can now record films with web cams; they can make music simply by downloading the appropriate software. They no longer have to buy expensive cameras or musical equipment. Even the written word has changed with the invention of hypertext. While I doubt these art forms will supersede the art forms of old – people still go to the cinema, the concert or music festival, the opera, the gallery, and they still buy books – I find this new fissional art fascinating. I would be interested to see if they have started to develop accompanying theory. People like Henry Jenkins have already started to theorise web culture, but to my mind this works on the level of online anthropology rather than artistic criticism. Moreover, this new medium is still in it’s infancy, and I feel the dust is still settling, but I would nevertheless be interested to see what new art forms are being born of the democratisation of expression, and whether this is accompanied by more theoretical and scholarly work. Would that, too, be reliant on the contingent or punctic, for example?
All these ideas are swimming around my head. They excite me. New ways of expressing ones self are emerging, and with them comes new ideas. But how will this post-modern fusionalism, this revolution in expression, be squared with more traditional modes? Time to go surf.