Made From Movement: Michael Snow's That/Cela/Dat, Marie Menken's Arabesque for Kenneth Anger, and Richard Serra's Double Torqued Ellipse
thesisposted on 08.06.2021, 07:39 by Angela G Joosse
Made from Movement works towards a theory of art that is grounded in movement. Thinking through movement allows for consideration of the temporal presence and experience of artworks, and enables an approach to art that crosses aesthetic boundaries. This study is carried out through close hermeneutic studies of three distinct artworks: Michael Snow's video gallery installation That/Cela/Dat (2000), Marie Menken's 16mm film Arabesque for Kenneth Anger (1958 – 1961), and Richard Serra's steel sculpture Double Torqued Ellipse (1997). Movement in these artworks does not appear merely as change over time or change of place, but rather as something that is coherent and consistent with itself but does not conclude itself, something that is in continual flux but does not try to achieve an end point, and something that holds forth and protects potent encounters with otherness. Movement, grasped in this way, is irreducible, generative, and tensile. The particular approach to this study is drawn from Samuel Mallin's phenomenological method of Body Hermeneutics. The method continues Heidegger's focus on singular artworks, and accepts that any particularly strong work of art is as worthy of careful study as any noteworthy work of philosophy or theory. Furthermore, drawing on Merleau-Ponty's philosophy, the method works from a conception of human consciousness that includes our affective, movingbody, perceptual, as well as cognitive integrations with the world. All four of these distinct, yet overlapping, regions of consciousness are embodied, and thus require physical situatedness with the phenomena to be described. Hence, the phenomenological descriptions in the dissertation are developed from writing done in the presence of the artworks, and the themes of movement are drawn from the phenomena shown by the artworks themselves. Through its embodied approach, and by working itself out through themes of movement encountered in three distinct works of art, Made from Movement contributes insights into topics of temporality, technology, language, femininity, perception, cinema, and art. In addition to offering critical writing on artworks by Snow, Menken, and Serra, the three hermeneutic studies also contribute philosophical reflection on the work of Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, Irigaray, and Wittgenstein, among others.