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Dialogic Materialism

Bakhtin, Embodiment and Moving Image Art

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Miriam Jordan-Haladyn

Dialogic Materialism: Bakhtin, Embodiment and Moving Image Art argues for the relevance of Mikhail Bakhtin’s theories of dialogism as a means of examining the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary moving image art forms. The volume comprises six chapters divided into two sections. The first section, Part I, illustrates the key concepts in Bakhtin’s multifaceted dialogism and develops these ideas in relation to moving image art. The main focus of this first part is the proposal of what the author terms dialogic materialism, which builds upon the Marxism inherent in Bakhtin, examining the material processes of cultural exchange with a particular emphasis on multi-perspective subjective relations. Part II consists of case studies that apply dialogic materialism to the moving image artwork of three artists: Stan Douglas, Jamelie Hassan and Chris Marker. Applying Bakhtinian theory to the field of the visual arts provides a means of examining the fundamentally dialogic nature of moving image art making and viewing, a perspective that is not fully developed within the existing literature.
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Chapter 1: Dialogism and Its Material Context

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Chapter 1:

Dialogism and Its Material Context

Language – like the living concrete environment in which the consciousness of the verbal artist lives – is never unitary. It is unitary only as an abstract grammatical system of normative forms, taken in isolation from the concrete, ideological conceptualizations that fill it, and in isolation from the uninterrupted process of historical becoming that is a characteristic of all living language. Actual social life and historical becoming create within an abstractly unitary national language a multitude of concrete worlds, a multitude of bounded verbal-ideological and social belief systems; within these various systems (identical in the abstract) are elements of language filled with various semantic and axiological content and each with its own different sound.

– Mikhail Bakhtin40

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