Ambient Attitudes. On practices of contingency, treason and humour.

Schmitz, Edgar. 2009. Ambient Attitudes. On practices of contingency, treason and humour.. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Ambient Attitudes. On Practices of Contingency, Treason and Humour outlines post-critical modes of involvement in current artistic practice. The project intersects current philosophies of difference with post-critical contemporary arts practice and mobilizes their conjunction to set up new conceptual frameworks for emergent modes of (non-)engagement. Placing its investigative focus on contemporary artistic practice, the project is set against a broader crisis of representational relationships between theory and practice, and is embedded in questions around contemporary concepts of resistance (Antonio Negri, Paolo Virno) and the possibility of non- representational relationalities (Jean-Luc Nancy).

For artistic and cultural practice as exemplary field, the project argues a move from specificity to contingency through Giorgio Agamben's notion of the whatever and Liam Gillick's early practice; it diagnoses slippage from trickery toward treason in Gilles Deleuze's notion of extended play and Gabriel Orozco's situational inserts; and it mobilises an attitudinal shift from irony to humour through Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's notion of minority and Andreas Slominski's trap-settings. These moves are shown to overspill the limited and limiting economies of established critical models which cohere around implicit claims for sustainable exchanges between theory and practice: the critique of institutional and other specificities, trickster engagements with game-like structures and ironic responses to given situations are all invariably premised on representational assumptions about the ways in which situations and responses, gestures and conceptualisations relate. Against such models of reciprocity and as challenge to their coherence, Ambient Attitudes. On Practices of Contingency, Treason and Humour profiles practices which fuse a basic refusal to engage with an affirmation of productive encounters. Ambient dispersal as a new, fundamentally contingent milieu for contemporary practice and its articulation in qualities, effects and attitudes is thus argued to have a quasi-paradigmatic relevance for resistant practices at large, including any theoretical involvement with them.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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post-critical; difference; contemporary art; contingency

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures



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Date Deposited:

30 Jun 2020 08:32

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:46


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