Ludus Populi: The Practice of Nonsense

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Abstract

Focusing on the Fluxus concept-practice of "art-amusement," this essay traces the cross-fertilization of the legacy of experimental art, most notably Marcel Duchamp and John Cage and the popular medium of sports and games. It explores the ways in which intermediality, concretism, and chance operations come together to create a socio-aesthetic practice that, while classifiable as "family entertainment" in the sense that it is accessible to all regardless of age, skill, culture, or education, nevertheless produces a durable "shift in consciousness" usually reserved for the transcendental realm of "high culture." I argue that it is through the deployment of Derrida's "blind tactics" that an equivalent, mutually structuring relationship is created between the hierarchically divided categories of art and entertainment, durable aesthetic satisfaction and instant gratification, and ideality and corporeality/materiality, and that it is due to the dissolution of these formerly antagonistic relationships that "the game" takes on a different shape. This new shape, which is paradoxical and solicits conceptually implausible behavior from the player, redefines the notion of game-playing and its constituent factors: the playing field, the field doxa, the stakes, and the goals, while at the same time creating Bourdieu's nonhegemonic, ludic-concretist game model of social interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-41
JournalTheatre Journal
Volume63
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011

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