The Art of Betweenness

  • Murphy, Michael (PI)
  • Saner, Goze (CoI)
  • Vos, Stephanie (CoI)
  • Shields, James (CoI)
  • Asaba, Yuiko (CoI)
  • Johnston PhD, Carl M. (CoI)
  • Schostak, John (CoI)

Project: Research

Project Details


The Art of Betweenness

13th November Royal Holloway

My research is in the field of the political/social thought of global theory. However, I don't think that social and political thought can or should only be limited to textual forms. To rely solely on text is, through its precision, genealogy, and the rational, vertical relationship to power, to exclude in terms of authentic and wide-ranging input and outputs. This fails to recognize the multiple ways that human beings experience, express, and legitimize the tensions and opportunities of meaning within the context of social relationships. Words are important but what become the realities of being human is beyond words and is found in the social space between me and you.
I'm thinking about a project based on an aspect of my research, the concept of 'Betweenness.' Betweenness opens up the concepts within the social and political and how these can be explored (intellectually, somatically, and emotionally) through its interconnectedness of mind-body, individuality and relationality. My research is an intellectual endeavour but I wish to take it further. I just wanted to get a feel of who may be interested in contributing, participating and/or developing the idea in some way.
Broadly we've, that is we in the West but increasingly spreading worldwide, inherited a story of the individual from the Greeks, through the imagination of 18th century German Romanticism, of the individual as a distinct and autonomous self. The self has been tied to our notion of reason, reasoning, freedom and how we construct our social and political institutions. We've also inherited a tradition that has separated art and science. This continued through the imagination of the enlightenment. It shapes our present world in how we view ourselves our relationships with other people, and in the design of the institutions that govern our lives. However, someone, apart from us, has always paid the price of this freedom. The institutions that we are developing for global governance, and even the way we are thinking about these, continue the old way of seeing the world. Even the most creative and provocative thinkers or politicians are using the same ideas and continue the period of articulate and eloquent navel gazing. The globalised world offers us the opportunity to draw from other traditions to think about social and political thought that is not rooted in 'European legacies'. Science is beginning to seriously call into question the idea of a distinct and autonomous self. The idea of betweenness views human beings as being both individual and rooted in social relations. This means that it provides a ‘new’ way of thinking about the social and political world. Art provides a means of developing ideas about social and political concepts alongside political and social theorists that can express the non-duality of individuality and relationality.

I'm looking to work with artists, those working in the social sciences and humanities to develop social art forms and means of expressing social and political experiences through the concept of Betweenness.

The Art of Betweenness

“Betweenness (aidagara 間柄)consists in the fact that self and other are divided from each other … and at the same time that what is thus divided becomes unified” (Watsuji, 1996, p. 35). A boundary that separates any two things is also the meeting place that unites them. This “in-betweenness” (aidagara) or lived social space, as the space of action, thus has an intrinsic qualitative character and interactive dynamic that differentiates it from geometrical space. In this concept mind and body are not separate but form mind-body.
The idea is to discuss with artists the possibility of developing an art work, music, drama, literature, etc. and combinations of, through the concept of betweenness. The artists should ‘own’ the art. The work must acknowledge that it is both created and creating. It should aim to convey ideas of individuality, relationality, alienation and self-alienation. It should be social in form, practice and content. Lastly, it should convey ideas diegetically and non-diegetically not only to the viewer but through the performer-the work should be owned.
If you wish to attend, be informed of further events, or wish to contribute by Skype please contact me at this email address.
Effective start/end date1/10/1330/06/14