Addressing a wide range of improvised art and music forms—from jazz and cinema to dance and literature—this volume's contributors locate improvisation as a key site of mediation between the social and the aesthetic. As a catalyst for social experiment and political practice, improvisation aids in the creation, contestation, and codification of social realities and identities. Among other topics, the contributors discuss the social aesthetics of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, the Feminist Improvising Group, and contemporary Malian music, as well as the virtual sociality of interactive computer music, the significance of "uncreative" improvisation, responses to French New Wave cinema, and the work of figures ranging from bell hooks and Billy Strayhorn to Kenneth Goldsmith. Across its diverse chapters, Improvisation and Social Aesthetics argues that ensemble improvisation is not inherently egalitarian or emancipatory, but offers a potential site for the cultivation of new forms of social relations. It sets out a new conceptualization of the aesthetic as immanently social and political, proposing a new paradigm of improvisation studies that will have reverberations throughout the humanities.
Contributors. Lisa Barg, Georgina Born, David Brackett, Nicholas Cook, Marion Froger, Susan Kozel, Eric Lewis, George E. Lewis, Ingrid Monson, Tracey Nicholls, Winfried Siemerling, Will Straw, Zoë Svendsen, Darren Wershler
Introduction. What is Social Aesthetics? / Georgina Born, Eric Lewis, and Will Straw 1
Part I. The Social and the Aesthetic
1. After Relational Aesthetics: Improvised Music, the Social, and (Re)Theorizing the Aesthetic / Georgina Born 33
2. Scripting Social Interaction: Improvisation, Performance, and Western "Art" Music / Nicholas Cook 59
3. From the American Civil Rights Movement to Mali: Reflections on Social Aesthetics and Improvisation / Ingrid Monson 78
4. From Network Bands to Ubiquitous Computing: Rich Gold and the Social Aesthetics of Interactvity / George E. Lewis 91
Part II. Genre and Defintion
5. The Social Aesthetics of Swing in the 1940s: Or the Distribution of the Non-Sensible / David Brackett 113
6. What Is "Great Black Music"? The Social Aesthetics of the AACM in Paris / Eric Lewis 135
7. Kenneth Goldsmith and Uncreative Improvisation / Darren Wershler 160
Part III. Sociality and Identity
8. Strayhorn's Queer Arrangements / Lisa Barg 183
9. What's Love Got to Do with It? Creating Art, Creating Community, Creating a Better World / Tracey Nicholls 213
10. Improvisation in New Wave Cinema: Beneath the Myth, the Social / Marian Froger, translated by Will Straw 233
Part IV. Performance
11. Social Aesthetics and Transcultural Improvisation: Wayde Compton and the Performance of Black Time / Winfried Siemerling 255
12. Devices of Existence: Contact Improvisation, Mobile Performances, and Dancing through Twitter / Susan Kozel 268
13. The Dramaturgy of Spontaneity: Improvising the Social in Theater / Zoë Svendsen 288
Contributors' Biographies 335
"The editors and authors of this important collection have assembled a striking and original set of ideas and examples to illustrate and demonstrate their contention that the time is ripe for a new approach to the classical questions of aesthetic theory. The resulting comprehensive and persuasive demonstration will persuade interested readers that the job has been done, that a social aesthetics illuminates questions that have too long been left unexplored."
Howard S. Becker, author of
"This groundbreaking collection brings together disparate fields, from ethnomusicology and art history to queer theory and philosophy, drawing them into a productive and at times heated conversation. Putting forward a whole set of new paradigms for considering music, improvisation, contemporary art, time-arts, new media, and aesthetics, the contributors advance the discourse on the improvised arts, potentially shaking up a number of disciplines in the process."
John Corbett, author of
"An indispensable collection that cracks open a site for more rich and interdisciplinary work."