Harvey, Stephen (2019) Aurality & the modern urban landscape: Invoking the flâneur - tracing a relationship between creativity and the city in my practice-research. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This commentary discusses an ongoing artistic practice that embodies the rich metaphor of the flâneur as the critical wanderer, observer and collector as imagined by Walter Benjamin in The Arcades Project. Principally, improvisation and studio composition are the core components of a two-part composition workflow that is philosophically grounded when considered against the values of flânerie. By adopting the flâneur metaphor as a central motif throughout, I will argue that a critical and potent creative practice that foregrounds two independent lines of enquiry can be achieved.

Since the flâneur is deeply associated with the metropolis, an evocation of the urban environment remains a constant reference point in both the creative and analytical elements of the work. The conflation of music and image is a prominent constituent of this practice, both as an audio-visual component and as a visual aid to the production of music. This idea is clearly reflected and referenced in the portfolio of works.

The oscillating approach associated with this practice is thoroughly evaluated while the initial production and the subsequent manipulation and composition of ‘raw’, improvised music is clearly delineated. Linking the flâneur metaphor to this oscillating two-part workflow when realising new musical works is central to the practice, how this is accomplished is thoroughly analysed whilst referencing the portfolio of works. The commentary also reflects on the apparent paradox that fixing improvised material continues to illicit. However, as I demonstrate, this process can be both practical and fruitful when the concept of the flâneur metaphor is combined with the pragmatic nature of the recording studio. Whilst the studio space might be considered a purely functional environment, it can, with experience and imagination be both empowering and efficacious in the creative process.

Finally, by drawing on the approaches outlined and considering the portfolio submitted, this commentary concludes that by oscillating between seemingly disparate forms and paradoxical procedures one can provoke an exciting dialogue where a coherent, inspiring artistic practice can emerge and move forward.

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