John Bell is a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Director of both the Ballard Institute and the Museum of Puppetry. He is a puppeteer and theatre historian who started his performance as a member of Bread and Puppet Theater and is a founding member of Great Small WorksThis studynbsp;analyzes the history of puppet, mask, and performing object theater in the United States over the past 150 years to understand how a peculiarly American mixture of global cultures, commercial theater, modern-art idealism and mechanical innovation created uniquely modern and singularly American approaches which have reinvented the ancient arts of puppetry as essential performance modes of the twenty-first century.
In American Puppet Modernism, Bell reveals how understanding puppetry is integral to understanding the nature of the material world in performance and in turn argues that the material world in performance is integral as a means of communication. Insightfully describing and analyzing different types of object performance from the 1860s to 2007, Bell uses the common focus on material objects in performance to link the worlds of traditional puppetry, mechanized image performance, indigenous rituals, avant-garde theater, political street performance, advertising, Kustom Kulture, art cars, and film and television. American Puppet Modernism shows how modern American culture has developed and revealed itself in the performance of objects and offers a groundbreaking contribution to the history of puppet, mask, and object performance. Book jacket.
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