Université Paris 8
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Policies of distraction

Project leader: Dork Zabunyan & Paul Sztulman

In partnership with:
University of Grenoble (UMR 5316)
University Lille 3 (CEAC)
Institutions culturelles Haute Ecole d’Art et de Design (HEAD), Geneva

Our project would like to study a key notion within modern capitalist societies, unpopular in the cultural field yet more complex that its denunciation supposes: the notion of distraction. We wish to to study it from a historical and theoretical point of vue, while mobilizing different artistic practices: cinema, music, architecture, graphic novel but also garden and amusement park art or even video game.

From the meaning of the word "distraction" in the 1920s-1930s avant-garde, and by examining today’s legacy, two main lines will be favored: on one hand, it is about considering distraction as a specific form of attention, by exploring corresponding sensitive worlds and the variety of perceptions that distraction favors: fluctuating attention, distracted listening, peripheral vision, etc.

On the other hand, we need to analyze how artistic productions welcome these various forms of distracted experience in their composition, to reveal the share of alienation or, on the contrary, to transform them into a driving emancipation force.


Luna Park (Coney Island), 1913.
Labex Arts-H2H

The Laboratory of Excellence in Arts and Human Mediations is part of the “Investments for the future” program since 2011. As part of this program, its members conduct research following three main lines: situations, technologies, hybridization.

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