Art, performing

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-M034-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2010
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

Some works, such as plays and pieces of classical music, are created as instructions (either notated or implicit in an exemplar) for performers; performances of such pieces arise from the appropriate execution of those instructions. Because the instructions do not specify all features possessed by an accurate performance, performers inevitably contribute something to the performance; even ideally accurate performances differ in the interpretations they offer. Some such works serve primarily to highlight the performer’s talents. Even where this is not so, some awareness of what is involved in rendering a piece is necessary to appreciate a work written for performance, since the skills and techniques of performance are the artistic media through which the work’s contents are presented. Performances are evaluated for the life, integrity and interest of their interpretations, as well as for their accuracy. The desirability of one performance over another relates partly to the knowledge and experience of the intended audience.

Other works, such as films, involve performance in their creation rather than in their transmission. If these works are multiple, they are so because copies are cloned from a master. When completed, such pieces are not performed or interpreted; they are shown or displayed.

Free improvisation might stand as performance in its own right, being neither the creation of a work nor an instance of one. The criteria in terms of which improvisations are evaluated differ from those involved in the creation or transmission of works, taking into account the fact that the improviser’s efforts involve the risks, as well as the delights, of spontaneity.

Performance art is a movement that reacted against many traditional assumptions about art and favoured multimedia, ephemeral, unscripted events or conceptual artworks.

    Citing this article:
    Davies, Stephen. Art, performing, 2010, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-M034-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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