Art, Language and the Abject: Through an Enquiry Into Performance Art, Does a Prior Knowledge Gained from the Social Situations and Experiences Around Us Affect the Way in Which We Understand Linguistics Within Artistic Practice?

Topics: Pragmatics, Illocutionary act, Philosophy of language Pages: 31 (11925 words) Published: January 15, 2013
ART, LANGUAGE AND THE ABJECT

THROUGH AN ENQUIRY INTO PERFORMANCE ART, DOES A PRIOR KNOWLEDGE GAINED FROM THE SOCIAL SITUATIONS AND EXPERIENCES AROUND US AFFECT THE WAY IN WHICH WE UNDERSTAND LINGUISTICS WITHIN ARTISTIC PRACTICE?

Abstract

This study responds to the ways in which linguistics, “the scientific study of language and its structure, including the study of grammar, syntax, and phonetics” and utterances, “something expressed in speech or writing” have been used within performance art from the 1960s and 70s. The performances will be analyzed through the use of language theory to show whether a prior knowledge gained from the situations around us, affects the way in which we comprehend and interpret performance art involving speech. This dissertation will proceed to investigate both Western and non- Western cultures and how language is used within these different cultural systems. This will include acts such as communication, translation, speech acts and utterances. Overall this dissertation will question whether the knowledge an audience have gained from the social situations around them and different experiences can affect the way in which they understand performance work involving speech and whether gestural devices such as body language and tone alter understanding.

Introduction

This dissertation will explore linguistics within performance art of the 1960’s/70’s. Performance, in this dissertation is “art in which the medium is the artist's own body and the artwork takes the form of actions performed by the artist”. I will question how language is used in different cultural systems, both Western and Non-Western. This includes; communication, translation, the speech act and utterances. This dissertation will proceed to discuss how art uses spoken language in terms of performance and speech, and does this relate to a prior knowledge gained by the social situations and systems we are brought up within through an enquiry into performance. The linguistic theories supporting the enquiry are that of Saussure, Austin and Bakhtin, alongside the notion of the abject from Julia Kristeva. Ferdinand de Saussure analyses language as a set of signifiers. These are “linguistic sounds that unite a concept and a sound-image.” J.L. Austin breaks down utterances into constative and performatives, also Locutionary, Illocutionary and Perlocutionary acts which are the “actions and consequences” of utterances. Mikhail Bakhtin deals with utterances but through grammar and semantics. Finally Julia Kristeva’s ‘abject’, “the brutish suffering that “I” puts up with, sublime and devastated” in relation to the human body and how when interior human fluids come into contact with the outside, it becomes something of disgust. Language naturally develops through time which is known as a diachronic perspective. According to Saussure, how language is used (or functions) within a human system constitutes a culture, because its signs are accepted. Saussure states “The more powerful a culture, the more it succeeds in having its signs taken as natural”. Language is not just a means of communication, but a set of signifiers, which couple with semantics to produce various images and meanings. Therefore a signifier relates to an image-concept. Semantics, which is the meaning of a word, can have various outcomes for different people. The semantics of words can differ unlike the sign. This is due to the development within a particular culture, hence why different people from the same culture put dissimilar meanings onto the same thing. These meanings tend to differ from region to region, where the semantic properties have been developed diachronically depending on that cultures accent development. In analysing language diachronically, what is being studied is the social use of that word within a society and the thoughts and viewpoints it provides. The enquiry will analyse whether language and communication can be understood through a...

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