On the aesthetics of music video
This doctorate is an attempt to show how music video presents a challenge to traditional modes of music aesthetics through its resistance to being categorized as an object. I attempt to show how music video, and by extension all music, is better conceived of as Text-event rather than as object, and hence formulate the notion of an aural paradigm based on material presence as opposed to a visual paradigm based on representation. This draws in particular on the writings of Roland Barthes and Julia Kristeva, and the work of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, and also on the very different tradition from which Ludwig Wittgenstein’s later philosophy originates. Within this framework the idea of a ‘fragmentary aesthetic’ is placed in relation to its nineteenth-century antecedents, and suggested as a possible methodology for future analysis. This theoretical base is then used to re-examine both the arguments surrounding the music aesthetics of Eduard Hanslick and Richard Wagner, and ideas drawn from modern physics, mathematics, and system theory, to develop the ideas of relationality and ‘gesture’ as a means of comparing different media without compromising the qualities specific to each. Also under discussion in this context are questions of meaning and narrative as they relate to music video and recent musicology, and an engagement with the Critical Theory of Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin regarding the role of social mediation in art. Finally the problems of ideological claims upon the realm of the aesthetic, as noted by Terry Eagleton, are considered, and the figure of the ‘technological body,’inspired by Brian Massumi’s work on the concept of proprioception, is proposed as a means of combining the objective and the subjective realms in a new musical aesthetic.