1 September, 2015 KAJITANI Shinji, NAKAJIMA Takahiro, KAWAMURA Satofumi, MOON Kyungnam

On 24 July 2015, Mr Kyle Peters from he University of Chiago gave the presentation "Beyond Authorial Death: Nishida Kitarō and the Self-Determination of the Author" at UTCP.

This presentation uses the work of Nishida Kitarō (1870-1945) to articulate an account of artistic agency that stands as an alternative to those discourses built around either the autonomy of the “Individual” or the “death of the author” [la mort de l'auteur]. With the ascension and subsequent dominance of those structuralist and post-structuralist trends which situate the author as the product of historically and materially determined conditions, many feminist and post-colonial scholars have expressed concerns over the lack of subjective agency, and thus about the unchallenged primacy granted to objective conditions in these accounts of artistic production. In particular, they have questioned the incapacitation of both the female and the colonized subject in these discourses. But rather than slipping back into the modern conception of the author as Individual, a notion which positions authorial output according to an autonomous, stable, and historically invariant essence, these scholars have called for a more balanced account of artistic production that is sensitive to the interrelationship between subjective and objective processes.

Recognizing the legitimacy of these concerns, this presentation uses the notion of the “self-itself” [jiko jishin], as an act underlying the subject-object duality articulated in Nishida’s middle period essay “Expressive Activity” [Hyōgen sayō], to argue that the fluidity of the artist melts into manifold positions in artistic production, thereby decentering artistic agency across a multitude of positions and diffusing artistic production across the continuum of subjectivity and objectivity. Next, using the processual framework articulated in his late-middle period essays “The Standpoint of Active-Intuition” [Kōiteki chokkan no tachiba], “Logic and Life” [Ronri to seimei], and “Artistic Production as a Historically Forming Activity” [Rekishiteki keiseisayō toshiteno geijutsuteki sōsaku], it links the work of art to the processual subject, claiming that the unfolding of the artist is creatively produced through the novelty of the work of art as it reallocates, reorganizes, and redeploys the present within the horizons delimited by the historical body. It ends by bringing these notions to reconceptualize our understanding of artistic production, the work of art, the artist, as well as the relationship between these notions. Here, subjective agency is secured in active intuition, with subjectivity standing as such only through its fundamental relationality with objectivity, in the interconnection of one and many. Artistic production is rooted in the bidirectional activity of becoming, and is the production of a subjectivity which is placed and positioned in discursive webs as it moves beyond them, reconfiguring and reorienting these discursive ideological systems. This means that no Individual can be deduced from the work of art, and thus there is no stable subjectivity that stands behind, and functions as an absolute link between, the disparate outputs of an artist’s oeuvre. Instead, there is a dynamic conception of processual subjectivity, produced and extinguished in the present moment.

Kyle Peters (The University of Chicago)

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