Communication studies
in Beyond the Happening
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By the mid-1960s, many practitioners desired to leave behind the notions of ephemerality, transience and improvisation associated with the Happenings of the late 1950s. This is vividly demonstrated by a 1966 attempt to create a simultaneous Three Country Happening by Allan Kaprow, Marta Minujín and Wolf Vostell that establishes the book’s central concerns, revealing how artistic fascination with the politics of communication was spurred by the transnationalism fostered through mass media technologies, together with the ways in which artists drew on sociology and psychology to develop alternative studies of interpersonal relations. Interpersonal communication emerged as a key focal point of sociology and psychology in the postwar period, fuelled by the advent of cybernetics and reactions against psychoanalysis. The introduction situates the Happening’s transnational development in relation to this preoccupation with communication, while proposing that artists working in performance were influenced by the counterculture to create works that resisted determinist, predictive models of interaction.


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