Disordered Attention

Disordered Attention:How We Look at Art and Performance Today

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How technology and the attention economy has impacted contemporary art

The ways we encounter contemporary art and performance is changing. Installations brim with archival documents. Dances stretch for weeks. Performances last a minute. Exhibitions are spread out over thirty venues. There are endless artworks about mid-century architecture and design. How are we expected to engage with today's diverse practise? Is the old model of close-looking still the ideal, or has it given way to browsing, skimming, and sampling?

Across four essays, art historian and critic Claire Bishop identifies trends in contemporary practice - research-based installations, performance exhibitions, interventions, and invocations of modernist architecture - and their challenges to traditional modes of attention. Charting a critical path through the last three decades, Bishop pinpoints how spectatorship and visual literacy are evolving under the pressures of digital technology.

Reviews

  • Today, the most contemporary art form could be called cancelism. Cancelism as an art historical genre reflects the global shift to populism, disinformation and polarization. Cancelism is anonymous, crowd based, ubiquitous, it privileges affect over analysis, it goes beyond traditional understandings of left and right. In her lucid analysis, Claire Bishop traces some of the historical developments that led to this situation: the futurist glorification of disruption, countercultural interventions based on the model of coup d´états, artivist decisionism - different threads through which disruption and transgression were consolidated as key modes of production from Silicon Valley to Pussy Riot. For anyone who wants to understand how art functions in the age of populism, Bishops book is an indispensable guide.

    Hito Steyerl, author of Duty Free Art
  • In Disordered Attention, Claire Bishop continues her careful and astute examination of the centrality of performance in contemporary art initiated in the now classic Artificial Hells. Guaranteed to become a fundamental reference, Disordered Attention offers its readers not only a survey of some of the most significant works in very recent performance and visual arts but it advances a whole new theory of spectatorship for the age of social media. Bishop shows us how our techno-mediated modes of experiencing art today transform the very social and material status of the artworks under review -- which endure a surprising metamorphosis thanks to Bishop's sharp analysis and clear prose.

    André Lepecki, Professor, Department of Performance Studies, New York University
  • We know how to concentrate our attention on the artworks that remain unchanged in time. But what does it mean to be attentive to the time-based art - performances, research practices or interventions? They cannot be grasped at one glance and, thus, seem to escape our attention. In her brilliantly written book Claire Bishop analyses the problems with contemporary spectatorship. It is a book not only for the specialists but for everybody who wants to look at contemporary art but does not know how to do it.'

    Boris Groys, author of The Philosophy of Care