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Dialogic Materialism

Bakhtin, Embodiment and Moving Image Art


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 2: Dialogic Materialism: Artist – Artwork – Observer


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Chapter 2:

Dialogic Materialism: Artist – Artwork – Observer

That anyone who speaks thereby creates is arguably the most radical implication of Bakhtin’s thought and the root concern that unifies his trans-linguistics and his literary meta-criticism. … There is something outrageous in so militantly extended a concept of authorship: it has the effect of abolishing – or at least blurring – the cardinal distinctions between written and spoken texts and aesthetic versus nonaesthetic use of language. In the face of what appears to be a galloping case of hyper-homogenization, it is useful to keep in mind Bakhtin’s predilection for difference, for the unique and the particular. Bakhtin batters at the walls between distinctions, which most of us now feel should be even more sharply distinguished, because he is convinced such differences are epiphenomena of a more fundamental split: the gap between mind and world that manifests itself as a noncoincidence of the self with itself and with others. The suggestion of Bakhtin’s total oeuvre, conceived as a single utterance, is that our ultimate act of authorship results in the text we call our self.

– Michael Holquist84

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