“What is happening”

Notes on the scenographic impulse in modern and contemporary art

Authored by: Kevin Lotery

The Routledge Companion to Scenography

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138917804
eBook ISBN: 9781315688817
Adobe ISBN:


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A scenographic impulse has been bound up with modern art from its earliest days. Its history, however, remains elusive. While scenographic conditions of spectatorship in the visual arts are often immediately recognizable, the set of formal maneuvers required to produce them are notoriously difficult to define. Some key aspects can be identified: a dependence on a community of viewers, the use of the effects of the stage (lighting and sound among them), the deployment of prop-like objects calling out for human users, or a tableau-like frontality. But none of these operations – and many more could be named here – guarantee the affective conditions of a scenographic environment.

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