Academic Session 13: Reading 2013
39th Annual Conference and Bookfair
University of Reading
11-13 April 2013
Rhythm in Art and Life
From 6th-century Chinese painting theory, to early 20th-century English modernist manifestos, to contemporary French philosophy, rhythm has been regarded a ‘living’ artistic force which embodies the temporal pulses present in life: change, growth, movement, and renewal. Although the interpretation and expression of rhythm varies in different disciplines, cultures and historical contexts, the vision of a rhythmical relationship between art and life asks fundamental questions of the nature of humanity, reality and aesthetics. The English poet, Orientalist and art historian Laurence Binyon found in Chinese art and poetry the desire to attain rhythmical vitality, while the French philosopher Henri Lefebvre’s Rhythmanalysis posited rhythm as a sensory measure that charts the relation between space and social practice. The Anglo-French journal Rhythm in 1912 was a cultural product aiming ‘to leave protest for progress, and to find art in the strong things of life’. The qualities that defined the journal’s concept of rhythm: freedom, reality and individuality, remain concepts of cultural force in contemporary society.
This panel explores creative and critical discussions of rhythm in artistic and cultural production across periods, cultures and disciplines. It provokes dialogue on how rhythm is historically discussed, expressed and re-interpreted by artists, theorists, philosophers and cultural critics. It also explores how rhythm is applied in single or multi-media artistic productions; how this ideal is envisioned within one’s sensual, intellectual and spiritual responses; and how the quest for rhythm corresponds to specific historical contexts in both Eastern and Western cultures.
Hilary Arnell (University of Reading) Rhythm and Representation: Laurence Binyon’s writing on art
Nicola Foster (The Open University) The Rhythm of East West dialogues in Contemporary Art
Simon Shaw-Miller (University of Bristol) Rhythm: Non-repetition, gesture and abstract expressionism
Diane Silverthorne (Birkbeck College, University of London) Dance to the Music of Time: Rhythm’s plastic powers and the modernist stage set
Louis Schreel (Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf) Aesthetics of Disappearance: On rhythm and multi-sensoriality in art
Alena J. Williams (Columbia University, New York. Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte, Paris) Viking Eggeling’s ‘Synthesis of Singularities’: Tracing the ornament in early abstract cinema
Pamela Kember (University of the Arts, London) Space, Time and Everyday Life: Suki Chan’s moving images
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