Contemporary Art and Spatial Experience, McGill University

Contemporary Art and Spatial Experience

Studies: Modern Art and Theoretical Problems 04 (ARTH 479)

Department of Art History and Communication Studies, McGill University
Dr. Anja Bock, Fall 2014

Seminars: Tuesdays 14h30 – 17h30, Arts W-5
Office hours: Fridays 10h – 11h30, Arts 260

Installation art is ubiquitous today, with sculpture, design and architecture rolled into a single spatial “experience.” The catchphrase “implicates the viewer” is everywhere, alongside descriptive terms such as “site-specific,” “immersive” and “interactive.” How are we to understand the spatial experiences that contemporary art proposes? This course investigates key concepts in the “production” of space with a focus on art after 1960. By discussing the work of foundational thinkers of space and place, including De Certeau, Lefebvre, Foucault and Deleuze and Guattari, this course will provide students with the necessary vocabulary to think critically about how different spaces implicate the viewer and what the consequences might be for our understanding of social space, subjectivity, history and cultural production.

• That representations of space are correlated with representations of the subject, both developmentally and historically, and that this correlation is dialectical.

• To engage with a selection of classic essays concerning spatial experience.
• To practice integrating theoretical material drawn from disciplines outside of art history with case studies drawn from contemporary art.
• To learn to ask questions that can propel personal research.
• To be able to discern sub-themes in contemporary art that concern subjectivity and spatial experience.

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