LIVE ARTS FOR THE EVERYDAY – APPLICABLE THOUGHT #52 – Theme

The theme is the central topic of something. The notion that a piece has to have a theme and be about something was put into question during the first half of the 20th Century by postmodern art, including dance, music and theater. With this break, artists compose work which is open enough to invite the audience to make their own meaning or they avoid it completely and compose according to purely formal methodologies. In this way, a piece is no longer a medium encoding a message, but an experience in itself. Just perceiving something as opposed to conceptualizing it, analyzing it, evaluating it or making sense of it is more difficult than it may seem. We can also call it being witness. Or meditation, which has been around far longer than postmodernism.

 

 

María Ferrara

 

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LIVE ARTS FOR THE EVERYDAY – APPLICABLE THOUGHT #42 – Homogeneity

Repetition and minimalism are two of the approaches with which postmodern music and dance in the 1960s questioned traditional forms. Attention is challenged by not feeding it with the contrast that it naturally gravitates towards. Instead, the same pattern or element is looped ad infinitum, with or without slight variation or developments. When we hold ourselves in there long enough, our perception will sooner or later switch into a different perception paradigm. John Cage said, “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.” A bit like meditating. At first it may seem like nothing is happening, but at some point there is a shift in the mind and we start noticing the subtleties that usually pass us by unnoticed.

 


María Ferrara