Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Magden, Norman E.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Art


Art--Philosophy; Performing arts--Philosophy


Throughout time, performance has presented itself as a means for expression of ideas and/or artistic preoccupations. It has been considered a way of "bringing to life," through movement in time and space, the varied formal and conceptual ideas on which the making of art is based. Performance draws its wealth from a variety of sources; however, the extent of its richness was expanded when the very nature of the performance experience was questioned in the 20th century. Questions regarding the nature of performance inclusive of conventions, such as scoring or notating, paralleled questions regarding the nature of art itself. Beginning with the works of the Italian Futurists, artists concerned themselves with the nature of performance both in theory and practice, in which theory expressed in the form of notation was subordinate to practice or experience. Indeed, throughout the history of performance as art, artists made notes and diagrams before and during the formulation of a performance or after its execution to instruct or communicate intricate data which enabled subsequent similar repeated performances. However, such "notations," relative newcomers to the performance arena, until recently had yet to be considered anything more than mere adjuncts to or for performance. Such was the case with Labanotation or Benesch Movement Notation, both developed relatively early in the 20th century. It is the intent of this thesis to examine the relationship between theory and practice or concept and experience in performance to the extent that theory is no longer an adjunct and no longer subordinate to practice. Moreover, through an examination of historical precedents one will recognize how theory then becomes practice as witnessed in the "performance markings" of Trisha Brawn (b. 1937), Lucinda Childs (b. 1940), Laura Dean (b. 1945), and Yvonne Rainer (b. 1934). These artists have been labeled post-modern dance/performance artists and have been significantly influenced by Marcel Duchamp (1887-196B), Bohn Cage (b. 1912), and Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925). Brown, Childs, Dean, and Rainer have all been influenced by Duchamp's phenomenological approach to art, Cagean explorations in "indeterminancy," and the idea that the spectator becomes actively rather than passively involved in the performance, along with- Rauschenberg's visual/verbal plays that diagram experiences. Their "performance markings" are not formal inquiries into aesthetics but test traditional definitions of performance, expand experiential vocabulary through studies about space, and most importantly, question the nature of art itself.


Bibliography: pages [124]-128.


128 pages




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