An Understanding


To go in-depth with analysing the art work one has to understand art work and the networking side of the artworld.

  • “Value of an institutional approach to understanding the Artworld
  • Provides a way of describing the social and economic conditions that make art possible today.
  • Can be plugged into a complexity or systems model like mediology.
  • Opens up analysis of the art work itself as being constituted by a complex field of forces that are not visible in art object itself, but are the grounds of possibility for art to appear for us at all.
  • A constitutive, contingent, and interdependent view.
  • Situates art, art making, art exhibition, and the art market in a large social and economic field of interdependent communities of social actors, whose exchanges and working agreements constitute the art world as such.
  • Removes solitary individual agency (artist, art viewer) from the question of art (what is art? how does a work become art? does it have to be good to be art?).

The art world is a social and economic network, and, like all networks, has externalities or network effects that create more incentives to be connected to the network than disincentives to remain disconnected”

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Art Theory Contexts

Art theory shift since late 1970s toward semiotics, cultural theory, and pan-humanities critical theory

  • Academic pan-humanities-social science theory becomes part of the professionalization of artworld careers: curators, art historians, critics.
  • Identity politics theory wave from early 1980s-mid 1990s (race, class, gender theory; feminisms).
  • So-called “culture wars” debates in public-funded art and political alignments of artists and artworld (1970s-early 1990s).
  • Question of the “state of the arts today” is largely overdetermined and generated through an institutional context and a universe of discourse used to pose questions and posit answers.

Semiotics, intertextuality (intermediality) and the current art scene

  • Differentiating synchronic (concurrent relationships) and diachronic (historical narrative) analysis, art in social and economic relations
  • Meaning viewed through semiotic model of differences and oppositions that structure the possible cultural significance of work
  • Viability of the “semiotic square” of oppositions and differentiations in analyzing art in a social context: network of relations is more complex than simple oppositional model.
  • Intertextuality: a model for “intermediality”: art making and art interpreting in contexts of prior work, traditions, codes, and values assumed by interpretive community.
    • Intertextuality refers to the network of content and code interdependencies for meaning, prior and concurrent works presupposed for the intelligibility of the work being viewed
    • What do the art works themselves and the “communities of practice” or “communities of reception” unconsciously presuppose about prior and contemporary work through which (and only through which) the work is intelligible?
    • A text is intelligible only through “a mosaic of references and quotations that have lost their origins” (Kristeva’s definition of intertextuality). Art works are similar in mosaics of implied references and responses.
    • What is already encoded, part of a cultural encyclopedia, prior to anyone’s interpretation (Eco).
  • Now we have “intermediation” (all media, beyond intertextuality): network of presupposed prior and contemporary works through which anything is interpreted.
  • Semiosis: art works in ongoing chain or dialogue of interpretations and responses; meaning produced through semiotic structure like language and other symbolic forms.
  • “The interpretation of a text will always take the form of another text.” (Eco)
    • Translated to art: “The interpretation of an art work will always the take form of another work.
    • New works as interpretations of prior or contemporary works (semiosis).

Applied mediology

  • status/role/function of the material art object in a digital and post-Internet world
  • social value of the “dematerialized” media of video and digital multimedia

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About hannahruthkellett

I am currently doing my Masters in interior design, this blog is to reflect and inspire my progress through out my time on the course. View all posts by hannahruthkellett

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