Dialogue as practice and understanding in contemporary art
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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This study investigates how social constructionist dialogue as art demonstrates a layered mode of practical inquiry, which weaves together interactive and explorative, re-presentational and reflective modes of dialogue in the performance of knowledge. Recent art debates present dialogue as a relational, collaborative and situated mode of meaning-making, and an alternative to traditional constraining frameworks of art. However, artists have been criticised for idealised interpretations of dialogue, which present it as something essentially good and democratic, for insufficiently scrutinising dialogical relationships, and for not providing adequate process accounts for secondary audiences. This study’s multi-layered performance of knowledge draws on thematic insights developed through fourteen interviews and five field conversation artworks from 2008 onwards. Research material from conversational encounters was combined and presented as three constructed written dialogues, which reflect the tensions and questions that emerge out of enacting such a layered mode of dialogue as art. These tensions are re-presented, and discussed in three central thematic chapters, which frame these themes as issues of context, competing characteristics of meaningmaking and relating. The constructed written dialogues provide a platform for further discussion and reflective analysis, which in turn are proposed as an invitation to continued dialogue and socially grounded interaction. The central implication of this study’s contribution to knowledge is that such an approach to practice-led inquiry articulates how dialogue may contribute to the increasing shift in critical art practices towards to more imbricated, uncertain, and performative approaches to knowledge, and provide an alternative to essentialised and foundationalist interpretations of dialogue.
PhD Thesis School of Art and Design
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