The Emergence of the Documentary Real within Relational and Post-Relational Political Aesthetics
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AbstractThe aim of this thesis is to conduct a post-relational reading of the programme of relational art and its influence upon current aesthetics. ‘Post’ is not used in the indicative sense here: it does not simply denote the passing of the high water mark of relational art’s critical reception. Rather, it seeks to identify what remains symptomatically unresolved in relational art through a reading of its texts together with its critique. Amongst these unresolved problems certain questions endure. The question of this art’s claim to autonomy and its problematic mode of appearance and materialism remain at large. Ironically it shares the same fate as the avant-garde it sought to distance itself from; the failure to unite art with the everyday. But it has nevertheless redefined the parameters of artistic production: this is its success. I argue that this is because relational art was internally riven from its outset by a contradiction between its micropolitical structures and the need to find a mode of representation that did not transgress its self-imposed taboo upon visual representation. I identify a number of strategies that relational art has used to address this problem: for example its transitive ethics and its separation of ‘the visual’ from formal representations of public space and of a liminal counter-public sphere. Above all, I argue that its principle of the productive mimesis and translation of social relations through art is the guarantor of this art’s autonomy. My thesis is premised upon the notion that one can learn much about new forms of critical art from the precepts and suppositions that informed relational aesthetics and its critical reception. Relational aesthetics, in fact, establishes the terms of engagement that inform new critical art. Above all, this is because the question of the ‘relation of non-relation’ is bigger than relational aesthetics. The ‘relation of non-relation’ does not denote the impossibility of relation between subjects. Rather, it is a category that identifies non-relation as the very source of productive relations. This can be applied to those liminal points of separation that 6 delineate the territory of critical art prior to relational aesthetics. For example, these instances of ‘non-relation’ appear in the separation of art from non-art; of representation from micropolitics and of the anti-relational opposition of the philosophical categories of the general and the particular. Overall, I seek to reclaim Bourriaud as instrumental to the re-thinking of these categories and as essential to a reading of current critical art discourse. I identify a number of misreadings of relational aesthetics that result from a misrecognition or unwillingness to engage with Nicolas Bourriaud’s direct influences: Serge Daney, Michel de Certeau, Gilles Deleuze and Louis Althusser are often overlooked in this respect. I argue that Bourriaud’s critics tend to bring their own agendas to bear on his work, often seeking to remediate what is problematic. These critiques introduce existing aesthetic and political paradigms into his work in order to claim him as their own. So for example we encounter antagonistic relational aesthetics as the reinstatement of the avant-garde. Also, relational aesthetics as an immanent critique of the commodity form within a selective reading of Theodor Adorno. Also, we encounter dissensual relational aesthetics as ‘communities of sense’ that adopt site-specific methodologies whose mode of inhabitation of the socius is a reaction to relational aesthetics and is premised upon separatism. This diversification of relational art’s critique does not address, however, its fundamental problems of autonomy and representation. Rather, in different ways, they sidestep these issues and duplicate their non-relationality in the form of an impasse. My reading seeks to read the relational programme as a whole and to reclaim that which is symptomatically post-relational within it. I think that this is important because the critique of Bourriaud is presently unduly weighted towards the analysis of Relational Aesthetics (Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics, trans. by S. Pleasance and F. Woods, (Dijon: Les presses du réel, 2002), thus important developments within Postproduction (2002) and The Radicant(2009) have gone overlooked. Specifically, Bourriaud’s increased emphasis upon a topology of forms and an Althusserian ‘aleatory materialism’ demand that we ask whether relationality in art is ontological or epistemological in form. It also demands that we re-consider its claims to materialism and critical realism on its own terms. Bourriaud’s later works are important not simply because they set out how relational art might inhabit networks of electronic communication but because they begin to develop a more coherent thinking of new modes of relational representation. Bourriaud begins to address the aporia of micropolitics and representation in his later works. His notion of representation becomes increasingly a matter of spatio-temporal relation and the representational act becomes increasingly identified with the motility of the relational act as a performative presentation. In the light of these developments, I argue that the thinking of relation that has thus far dictated the philosophical analysis of relationality and political aesthetics results in an acute anti-relationality or a ‘relational anarchism’. This is why the philosophy of Jacques Rancière and Alain Badiou respectively, are inadequate to the demands of current aesthetics. In fact they hinder its development. On this basis I turn to Rodolphe Gashé’s re-thinking of relation. His thinking grants relation a minimal ontology that in fact excludes it from philosophy, but at the same time, plays a key role in the construction of singularities as new epistemological categories. Gashé suggests a unique epistemological value for relations and recognizes what is evental within them. These singularities find their modes of appearance within various forms of the encounter. Gashé’s thought is helpful in that it identifies the non-relational of relation with its event. Also, I argue that a theory of post-relational representation is necessary to address the ‘weak manifestations of relational art’, although not in a transgressive or messianistic form; also, that this thinking of representation, when combined with aleatory materialism, produces a 8 broad constituency of representational forms with which to construct a more robust critical art. This includes the documentary form. In order to address the objections of micropolitics I therefore advance Philip Auslander’s notion of the performativity of the document as essential to relational aesthetics because it is an art form that in fact requires mediation by the visual. My argument is premised upon the ineliminability of representation from the aesthetic and moreover, that the artwork is constituted within a broad nexus of operations and acts of signification. This fragmentary construction is the source of the objectivity or critical realism of these practices. I argue that ‘visual’ documentation functions as a tool for presencing and connecting relations of exchange but is merely one of the forms of representation available to visual artists.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the Requirements of the University of Wolverhampton For the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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An exploratory study of GIS based analysis of Health and Safety related informationHeesom, David; Oloke, David; Proverbs, David G.; Young, Christopher; Manase, David (University of Wolverhampton, 2008)Statistics from the Health and Safety Executive show that the UK construction industry has approximately 80 fatalities per year, making the construction industry one of the most dangerous industries when compared to other industries. The reduction of construction accidents in the construction industry has led to the need for thoroughly analysed construction environment information which can be effectively utilised in formulating construction health and safety planning strategies, thus enabling the construction industry meet accident reduction targets. However, existing approaches to information analysis mainly focus on factors within construction health and safety information during analysis and do not shed light on the influencing socio-economic and spatially influenced issues within which the industry’s accident contributory factors are rooted. It is also clear that limitations of information usage in the construction industry are due to the fragmented nature in which health and safety information is availed to practitioners for ultimate utilisation in the construction process. There is, therefore, a need for more appropriate decision-support mechanisms that can take account of spatial contributory factors to accident occurrence. There is also a need for mechanisms that enhance the management, analysis and utilisation construction environment information from varied sources for integration in the construction process. The failure to utilise information from varied sources in the construction industry, means that adequately analysed information is lacking for integration in construction health and safety planning strategy formulation process. This study was initiated as a response to this challenge. This prompted further research into the utilisation of health and safety information and its integration in the construction process. A survey involving 215 construction stakeholders was conducted to establish the limitation and requirements of health and safety in the construction industry. Results derived through qualitative analysis further emphasised the need for enhanced health and safety information analysis and integration for use in decision making. The research explored how the spatial element present in all in construction environment information could be utilised to account for accident contributory factors. This led to the exploration Geographical Information System (GIS), a mechanism that takes into account spatial aspects of bodies of information of the phenomenon being explored, for its potential capabilities in management and analysis of construction environment information. The implementation of the GIS-based system known as Geographical Information System for Accident Prevention (GISAP) is then presented. The evaluation of the system by prospective end-users reveals the limitations and benefits of the system implementation and recommendations made for further research. In conclusion, it was clear from this study that this approach has the potential to provide a quick referencing GIS success that can link, organise, analyse and display accident data and other construction and non construction environment data. This can assist stakeholders in decision making during formulation of construction health and safety strategies. The approach can improve understanding of analyses and can enhance the handling of queries related to accident data and other data. This innovative approach can also offer an extra dimension of safety information management, identify trends and areas for effective accident preventive action and ultimately enable development and directions of future work and to engender wider debate.
Athletes heart and exercise related sudden cardiac death: Across the age spanWhyte, Gregory P.; Nevill, Alan M.; Wilson, Mathew (University of Wolverhampton, 2010)Background - Regular exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and subsequent sudden cardiac death (SCD). However, a small, but notable proportion of athletes die suddenly due to inherited or congenital disorders of the heart that predispose to malignant ventricular arrhythmias. Such tragedies are highly publicised, particularly when high-profile athletes are involved. To date, limited evidence for the efficacy of cardiovascular pre-participation screening exists outside of the Italian experience. Furthermore, limited data exists examining the impact of ethnicity on cardiac adaptations to physical training. Whilst the cardiovascular benefits of exercise are well known, the impact of life-long endurance exercise is less well understood. Long term high-intensity endurance exercise is associated with changes in cardiac morphology together with electrocardiographic alterations that are believed to be physiologic in nature. Recent data however, has suggested a number of deleterious adaptive changes in cardiac structure, function and electrical activity in response to life-long endurance activity. Aims and Objectives - The aims of this PhD were; 1) To find an effective preparticipation screening method that would successfully identify pre-existing cardiovascular abnormalities, 2) To identify the prevalence of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and Long QT syndrome in elite UK athletes; 3) To examine the impact and significance of ethnicity upon left ventricular remodelling in elite athletes, and 4) To examine the acute and chronic impact of ultra-endurance exercise across the life-span in male endurance athletes. Major Results and Conclusions – 1) Study 2 sought to confirm the efficacy of resting 12-Lead ECG ‘alongside’ personal/family history questionnaires and physical examinations as collective tools to identify diseases that have the potential of causing sudden death within a cohort of elite junior athletes (n=1074) and physically active school children (n=1646). Nine participants were identified with a positive diagnosis of a disease associated with SCD. None of those diagnosed with a disease associated with SCD were symptomatic or had a family history of note. Thus, personal symptoms and family history questionnaires alone are inadequate in the identification of individuals with diseases associated with SCD. In conclusion, resting 12-Lead ECG is paramount when screening for diseases that have the potential of causing sudden death in the young. 2) Study 3 examined 3,500 asymptomatic elite athletes (75% male) with a mean age of 20.5 ± 5.8 years with 12-lead ECG and 2-dimensional echocardiography. None had a known family history of HCM. Of the 3,500 athletes, 53 (1.5%) had LVH (mean 13.6 ± 0.9mm, range 13 to 16mm), and of these 50 had a dilated LV cavity with normal diastolic function to indicate physiological left ventricular hypertrophy. Three (0.08%) athletes with LVH had a non-dilated LV cavity and associated deep T-wave inversion that could have been consistent with HCM. However, none of the 3 athletes had any other phenotypic features of HCM on further non-invasive testing and none had first-degree relatives with features of HCM. In conclusion, the prevalence of HCM in elite athletes is significantly less than in the general population; with the demands of strenuous exercise on the cardiovascular system selecting out most individuals with HCM. Study 4 examined 2000 elite athletes in order to identify the prevalence of Long QT syndrome. Three athletes had a QTc value of >500 ms and all exhibited one of: paradoxical prolongation of QTc during exercise, a confirmatory genetic mutation, or prolonged QTc in a first-degree relative. In contrast, none of the athletes with a QTc value of <500 ms had any other features to indicate LQTS. Accordingly, the prevalence of a prolonged QTc interval in elite British athletes is 0.4%. 3) Study 6 examined 300 nationally ranked UK black male athletes (mean age 20.5 years) in comparison to 150 black and white sedentary individuals and 300 highly-trained white male athletes. Black athletes exhibited greater LV wall thickness and cavity size compared with sedentary black and white individuals. Black athletes had greater LV wall thickness compared with white athletes. A minority of black athlete’s exhibit LVH ≥15 mm; proposing that in the absence of cardiac symptoms or a family history of HCM, an LV wall thickness ≥15 mm in black athletes may represent physiologic LVH when the LV cavity is enlarged and diastolic indexes are normal. 7 black athletes (12%) with LVH displaying deep T-wave inversions in leads V1 to V4. In conclusion, in the absence of obvious pathology, these electrical anomalies in black athletes likely represent a normal spectrum of ECG changes in response to physical training. 4) Study 8 examined 17 male participants (age 33.5 ± 6.5 years, 26–40 years) using cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) and echocardiography before and after a marathon to investigate the relationship between systolic function and diastolic function against biomarkers of cardiac damage. Results demonstrates biomarkers of myocardial cell damage following an acute bout of prolonged exercise are not associated with either systolic or diastolic functional measures, and do not seem to be associated with any detectable myocardial inflammation, oedema, or scarring using either gold standard techniques of gadolinium enhanced CMR or echocardiography respectively. The impact of multiple episodes of prolonged exercise, as experienced by highly trained veteran endurance athlete is not fully understood. 5) Study 10 examined the cardiac structure and function of 12 life-long, competitive endurance veteran athletes (> 50 yrs, mean ± SD marathons 178 ± 209 (range 20 – 650)) against 17 young male endurance athletes (<40 yrs) using echocardiography and CMR with late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) to assess myocardial fibrosis. Lifelong veteran athletes had smaller LV and RV end-diastolic and end-systolic volumes (p<0.05) but maintained LV and RV systolic function compared with young athletes. In 6 (50%) of the veteran athletes LGE of CMR indicated the presence of myocardial fibrosis; no LGE in the young athletes. The prevalence of LGE in veteran athletes was not associated with the number of competitive marathons or ultra-endurance marathons (>50 miles) completed, age, LV and RV end-diastolic volumes or LV mass (p>0.05). In conclusion, there is limited evidence at present demonstrating that cardiovascular re-modelling following lifelong endurance exercise leads to long-term disease progression, cardiovascular disability or SCD.