File spoon-archives/avant-garde.archive/avant-garde_1998/avant-garde.9806, message 59

Subject: Re: avant-garde failing-fortune
Date: Tue, 16 Jun 1998 12:45:36 -0700

Kristoffer Orum wrote:

>the fact that what we call art is just a
> (random?) definiton generated by the cultural elite. In fact objects of
> are not different from other kinds of objects(be they natural or manmade)
> in the way they interact with the rest of the world. All objects viewed
> of cultural context (if that indeed is possible) are "the same". This is
> not to say that are is not interesting, but that its the way that we view
> art that is intersting. I guess it's a kind of zen'ish point I'm trying
> make: That the way, is more important that than what. 

Of course this is true but at this point it's almost trivially true. It is
true, but it should not need to be forever repeated, that the same object
looks different in a grocery store from how it looks in a gallery, etc. We
are called to pay a different kind of attention to things called "artworks"
because the implicit contract between artist and socius is that if an
artist denominates something to be art, then it will reward the viewer's
attention with some sort of insight or added richness (unfortunately
artists have been, as an easy rebellious stance, betraying this confidence
all too frequently in the last few decades--a rather amusing game at first,
but it produces what we now see--no one pays much attention to those things
named "art" because very often the promise is not lived up to) 
It is true that of course all human meaning--anything that could be called
meaning--is produced *as meaning* by its human and social context. But
there is also something like use value that bridges the gap between
"meaning" (the how you see something) and the "what", the material nature
of the thing. When my son's rat uses a sock as a bed, to him it is neither
"sock" nor "bed," but a collection of physical qualities that meet needs,
some of which are "physical", and some "psychological" (he likes the
We are not so very different from rats in this way. There is a continuum of
meaning that is utterly context-dependent, that shades into a continuum of
meaning that arises from our interaction and sharing of physical qualities,
that shades into perception of physical qualities that don't find a home in
meaning at all. It's this long bridge from the physical world through the
body through the brain to the mind as part of social/ideological world that
intrigues me as a realm of possibility for sculpture. 

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