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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Richard Schechner: "Art is cognitive as well as passionate...

...and theory is passionate as well as cognitive."

Today I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Richard Schechner, who could be termed as one of the founders of Performance Studies--the study of the everyday life of performance. In addition to the brilliance of who he is and what he's done (Professor of Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, editor of TDR: The Drama Review, and artistic director of East Coast Artists, one of the founders of the Performance Studies department of the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University (NYU), the list goes on and on...), I'm inspired by his philosophy on life, and on the path to knowledge and ultimately wisdom.

Through the eyes of Schechner, knowledge is seeing things together, as in seeing wild imagination in the hard sciences (string theory, gluons?) and concrete theory in art. I see this as creativity as well, through the lens of Rosenthal, who describes the creative "janusian" process as seeing two distinct areas of space into one. I admire Schechner's passion behind idea, for he is "passionate about scholarship as if passionate about art," and makes a great statement again those critics of neuroaesthetics arguing that the statement "I don't want to study the science of art because I don't want to ruin art" is NOT TRUE. Schechner tackles a problem by pursuing a problem to the end, and seeing connections (and we can see he is very successful!)

Schechner comes up with many clever axioms, some of which I’d like to share (roughly quoted):
“Ignorance (of anything) to infinity is constant.”
“Improvisation must have structure. Structure must have improvisation.”
“Art is constantly as restatement, manipulation…”
“Serendipity is important.”

Here’s to another “artscientist,” as Daniel Edwards, author of Artscience, would say. And here’s to the artscientist within us all!

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