my dissertation focused on 'the performative object - tracing the role of the performative object towards a contemporary understanding'
‘A large box is handily made of what is necessary to replace any substance. Suppose an example is necessary, the plainer it is made the more reason there is for some outward recognition that there is a result.’
from ‘Tender Buttons’ - Gertrude Stein
The presence of the object in contemporary art has undoubtedly shifted from that of mere prop to a more collaborative or semi-independent role in which activation combined with agency often determines the shape of the resulting work. When does the object cease to be only the creation of the artist and instead assume the role of the artist, the main creator of the experience and therefore the work? This relationship between artist and object, ever wider and blurring the lines between both, is entering a new phase; the use of living cells or self generating virtual environments signals the potential for the art work itself to one day perhaps replace the artist entirely, or at least reduce their role to that of a momentary initial instigator. On further enquiry this seemingly radical shift perhaps still returns us to the transformative, to the traditional and ritual aspects of human development, the embodied physical symbol of spirit or the ‘other’. In this text I will discuss this historical context and, using examples of contemporary practice, explore the evolving differences between the often overlapping perceptions of the object (static, fixed) and the performative object (performing, performer). It is my belief that recognising this difference allows us new insights into contemporary performance based practice and also leads to interesting discussions around the role of the future human artist.