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Moving Images of Literature: Transformations of Literature in Contemporary Video and Film Installation Art
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study aims to contribute to a better understanding of the many engagements with literature beyond the literary field. More specifically, it studies different ways of staging and transforming literature in video and film installation since the 1990s. The dissertation presents a close reading of four artworks, each representing a key approach to transformation: Stan Douglas’ Der Sandmann (1995), based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1817 short story of the same title; Gerard Byrne’s 1984 and Beyond (2005–07), a staging of a conversation between science fiction writers, originally published in Playboy magazine in 1963; Fiona Tan’s Disorient (2009), which takes Marco Polo’s travelogue from the late thirteenth century as its point of departure; and Kutluğ Ataman’s The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (2009), derived from Shakespeare’s plays. 

Video and film installation occupies an important position in contemporary art, often using pre-existing cultural material from other media. Its specific temporal and spatial structure makes it a particularly rich art form for the study of how literary works are transformed, and what images of literature, in its broadest sense, are used and set in motion. The focus is on processes of transformation through selection and modification, interpretation, reframing, and shift in media. The study is informed by theories from the fields of intertextuality, intermediality, adaptation studies, and artistic appropriation.

Each of the artists turn to widely-known works or authors. The approaches to literature range from the projection of alphanumeric text to the staging of a conversation between authors, which shifts the focus from the literary work to the discourses and conditions of literature. It becomes clear that the artists, in their installations, do not necessarily perform retellings of their sources. Literature is discussed in its role as a vehicle for cultural values, as a place where narrative conventions are negotiated, and where cultural space is mediated and constructed. All the studied artists employ a variety of devices of estrangement. The dissertation especially discusses the oscillation between source and derived work in relation to the installations’ self-reflexive form.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Uppsala universitet, Litteraturvetenskapliga institutionen , 2015. , 248 p.
Keyword [en]
Transformation, Adaptation, Intermediality, Cultural Memory, Video and Film Installation
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-243112ISBN: 978-91-506-2442-7OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-243112DiVA: diva2:787025
Public defence
2015-03-27, Eng/6-1023, Engelska parken, Thunbergsv 3 P, Uppsala, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2015-03-05 Created: 2015-02-04 Last updated: 2015-07-23Bibliographically approved

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Dahlern, Tanja von
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