Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The majority of writings on David Bowie have focussed on his early work. Many feel that Bowie's early work has much merit, as has been made clear by the vast pool of both academic and popular writings regarding his work in the early 1970s, his collaborations with Brian Eno in the late 1970s, and his most commercially accepted works in the early 1980s. However, much of the academic writing on Bowie has chosen to focus only on these works and ignores his more recent material. This thesis contributes to the body of knowledge regarding the more recent work of David Bowie.
In 1995, Bowie released the album 1. Outside. Through its music and lyrics, album art, accompanying narrative, music video and live performance, Bowie presents a world of the absurd and violent. He engages with the notions of murder as art, body modification as ritual, and the state of society at the end of the twentieth century. Bowie, in his comments to Ian Penman in Esquire magazine, suggests that the proliferation of body modification in late twentieth century Western society acts as a replacement for the Judeao-Christian ethic.
By applying Victor Tumer's theory ofliminality, it is argued that, through 1. Outside, Bowie is constructing a representation of a space which is analogous to society at the end of the millennium. For Turner, the liminal stage embodies an optimistic "storehouse of possibilities," not unlike a gestation period which precedes new life. Rather than creating a space which fits Turner's model of the liminal exactly, Bowie suggests a space which is liminoid, not exhibiting the full potential of the liminal. Bowie presents themes of nihilism and the alienation of technology, as well as many juxtapositions in visual performance, which serve to give the album a sense of ambiguity contributing to its ambivalent, and thus liminoid, character.
Greco, Nicholas P., "David Bowie's 1. Outside: The Creation of a Liminoid Space as a Metaphor for Pre-Millennial Society" (2000). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6493.
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