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'Realist Horror' as Creative-Critical Mode in Intermedia Art and Culture

Steans, David Graham (2019) 'Realist Horror' as Creative-Critical Mode in Intermedia Art and Culture. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

I propose that the concept of 'realist horror', as originally defined by Cynthia A. Freeland in 1995, is of utmost relevance to our contemporary cultural moment. Whereas Freeland understands realist horror as a cinematic genre, I consider its potential as a mode of interdisciplinary artmaking. Realist horror destabilises presupposed dichotomies between fiction and reality, and puts particular postmodern strategies to affective, irrational ends. This practice-led PhD builds on my initial argument – that the pertinence and utility of realist horror as a concept has only increased – through a series of thematically interrelated but self-sufficient critical essays, three central practical projects, and a host of other artworks. I use the essays to perform several functions. I examine the blurring of fiction and reality in the contemporary arts, ultimately arguing that fiction works as an artistic method, and works despite itself. I critically account for the use of narrative and 'the voice' in my practice, situating my writing in relation to discrete but overlapping cultural contexts. I explore and theorise the conceptual impetus of artworks that 'return to the scene', arguing that 'returning to the scene', like realist horror, subversively reorders common presumptions about art and reality. Cumulatively these discussions provide a theoretical framework for understanding how contemporary practice can deploy such means in ways that contravene, interrupt and exceed the postmodern. My use of media forms and creative-academic disciplines beyond contemporary art – coupled with a specific interest in horror – has necessitated a critical consideration of the idea of genre, which I understand not as a set of restrictive or reductive criteria but as a relational economy. I use horror as a multivalent aesthetic category that enables me to negotiate and explore multiple strands of practice-led research via an expanded notion of what contemporary art practice is and can be.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: realist, horror, genre, returning to the scene, contemporary art
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Mr David Steans
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2019 14:18
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2019 14:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/25491

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