Moby Dick Big Read [website, publication and events]

Cockayne, A, Hoare, P and Chapman, S (2012) Moby Dick Big Read [website, publication and events].


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Moby-Dick is the great American novel. But it is also the great-unread American novel. Sprawling, magnificent, deliriously digressive, it stands over and above all other works of fiction, since it is barely a work of fiction itself. Rather, it is an explosive exposition of one man’s investigation into the world of the whale, and the way humans have related to it. Of a nature transgressed and transgressive – and of one man’s demonic pursuit, a metaphorical crusade that even now is shorthand for overweening ambition and delusion. The curators artist Angela Cockayne and writer Professor Philip Hoare convened and curated a unique whale symposium and exhibition at Peninsula Arts, Plymouth University, under the title, Dominion. Inspired by their mutual obsession with Moby-Dick and with the overarching subject of the whale, they invited artists, writers, musicians, scientists and academics to respond to the theme. The Moby-Dick Big Read grew out of this as an online version of Melville’s magisterial tome: each of its 135 chapters read out aloud, by a mixture of the celebrated and the unknown, to be broadcast online in a sequence of 135 downloads, with contemporary artworks curated or made especially in response to the text all publicly and freely accessible. Now, in the 21st Century, a century and a half since it was first conceived and launched onto a misbelieving world, Moby-Dick retains its power – precisely because we are still coming to terms with it, and what it said. Incredibly prophetic, it foresaw so many of the aspects of the modern world with which we deal with. The abuse of power and belief; of nature and the environment; of the human spirit. It deals with art and artifice and stark reality – in an almost existential manner. It is truly a book before its time – almost ancient myth, as much as futuristic prophecy.

Item Type: Other
Divisions: Bath School of Art, Film and Media
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Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2015 13:36
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2022 10:38
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