University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Art of Exchange: A Practice-based Inquiry into Co-opting Site and Audience Agency in the Construct of an Artwork.

Gubb, Mark ORCID: (2020) Art of Exchange: A Practice-based Inquiry into Co-opting Site and Audience Agency in the Construct of an Artwork. PhD thesis, University of Worcester.

Text (PhD Thesis)
SMGubb - PhD - Art of Exchange - 2021.pdf - Submitted Version

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This body of creative work asked what we can learn about the transference of agency between artist, site, and audience, in particular relation to the audience as a
core element in an artwork’s construct or activation. The resulting critical overview builds on, and contests, theories established in Alfred Gell’s ‘Art and Agency: An
Anthropological Theory’ (1998) and Nicolas Bourriaud’s ‘Relational Aesthetics’(1996) through practice-based research and the consideration of contemporary theorists including Kim Charnley, Gregory Sholette and Claire Bishop.

The primary aim of this research was to examine the potential for co-opting site and audience agency in the construct of an artwork by asking three sub-questions
focusing on the possibility of establishing a space to be inhabited, equally, by both an art and not-art audience, the transference of ‘tokens’ or requested interactions, and how an artwork draws on its specific site. This involved the creation and observation of a body of performative and sculptural artworks and the siting of those artworks with partial or no acknowledgment of a wider artistic context. Diverse sites for exchange included rock concerts, public billboards, town centres, sometimes including ‘tokens’ to be taken away within a process of exchange.

Key findings conclude that viewers are engaged in a social relationship with the artwork - acting upon it or being acted upon by it – and, through this relationship, the artist can incorporate the audience/viewers into the fabric of the work, extending their role into a fundamental bringing-in-to-being of the artwork. Audience preconditioning towards a site extends the artwork’s dialogue beyond that of simply being considered an artwork. When successfully presenting as a credible version of something existing beyond the contemporary art canon, discussion of art or not-art becomes irrelevant,
as the artwork exists to be experienced and processed on its own recognisable terms. The memory of that experience/exchange becomes the medium through which agency is passed on to/through the audience.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A pdf file of this PhD thesis is available to download from this WRaP record.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: art, sculpture, live-art, performance, site-specific, Alfred Gell, relational aesthetics, agency, exchange, audience, activation
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Arts
Related URLs:
Copyright Info: © 2020 S Mark Gubb, All rights reserved.
Depositing User: Mark Gubb
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2021 09:48
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2021 10:36

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