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Beyond the HappeningPerformance art and the politics of communication$
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Catherine Spencer

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526144454

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526144461

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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 29 July 2021

Introduction: Communication studies

Introduction: Communication studies

(p.1) Introduction: Communication studies
(p.v) Beyond the Happening

Catherine Spencer

Manchester University Press

By the mid-1960s, many practitioners desired to leave behind the notions of ephemerality, transience and improvisation associated with the Happenings of the late 1950s. This is vividly demonstrated by a 1966 attempt to create a simultaneous Three Country Happening by Allan Kaprow, Marta Minujín and Wolf Vostell that establishes the book’s central concerns, revealing how artistic fascination with the politics of communication was spurred by the transnationalism fostered through mass media technologies, together with the ways in which artists drew on sociology and psychology to develop alternative studies of interpersonal relations. Interpersonal communication emerged as a key focal point of sociology and psychology in the postwar period, fuelled by the advent of cybernetics and reactions against psychoanalysis. The introduction situates the Happening’s transnational development in relation to this preoccupation with communication, while proposing that artists working in performance were influenced by the counterculture to create works that resisted determinist, predictive models of interaction.

Keywords:   communication, cybernetics, Happenings, internationalism, interpersonal relations, mass media, psychology, sociology

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