Sounding Spaces: Aurality in Beckett, Nauman and Cardiff

Tubridy, Derval. 2007. Sounding Spaces: Aurality in Beckett, Nauman and Cardiff. Performance Research, 12(1), pp. 5-11. ISSN 1352-8165 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The article investigates the ways in which Samuel Beckett and contemporary artists such as Bruce Nauman and Janet Cardiff transgress the borders between theatre, music and fine art through finely composed dramatic narrative. It explores the interrelationship between narrative, aurality and space in Beckett’s plays such as Krapp’s Last Tape and That Time, and Canadian artist Janet Cardiff’s audio pieces and installations such as Forty Part Motet and The Missing Voice (Case Study B). Both dramatist and artist examine the role of listening within a specifically constructed fictional space which is, in Cardiff’s work, mapped onto the real space in which the listening body moves. Cardiff’s work blurs the line between fiction and reality as the narrated soundtrack leads the listener through real time and space. Using the conventions of cinema Cardiff’s works present in sound what Beckett’s Film evokes through visual imagery, the counterpoint between both works destabilising the border between genres. Nauman’s early work was strongly influenced by Beckett’s theatre. This is most evident in video pieces such as Slow Angle Walk (Beckett Walk) in which Nauman mimics the awkward gait of many of Beckett’s characters (particularly from Molloy and Watt) in a performance that takes place within the spare confines of the artist’s studio. It examines Beckett’s legacy in Nauman’s contemporary work, in particular his installation at the Tate Modern called Raw Materials. Here Nauman develops an arrangement of narrative which is closer to music than prose, and presents it in a way that evokes Beckett’s theatrical places writ large. Sounding Spaces: Aurality in Beckett, Nauman and Cardiff explores how Beckett, Nauman and Cardiff interweave past and present, memory and fiction, desire and reality through a complex interplay between sound and space at the moment of performance.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature
Visual Cultures



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Date Deposited:

14 Oct 2010 09:33

Last Modified:

26 Jun 2017 10:53

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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