January 12, 2004

Three Positions for Interacting With an Art Work


Rene Magritte, The Human Condition

the artist
the viewer
the culture

I will be dwelling on this topic for the next two entries at least. It is important to understand how these positions work because Postmodern reception theory has granted agency to the viewer/reader of the art work. However, as an artist, I am the one who manipulates matter and energy to create the art object. My position is that the act of creation constructs meaning based on my ideas and intentions. But, what of the art object itself? How does it relate to the three positions of interaction with the art work?

Michael Anne Holly is a proponent of reception theory and she compares and contrasts the various forms of reception theory in her book Past Looking: Historical Imagination and the Rhetoric of the Image (1997). Interestingly, I found the final chapter of her book, to be an abstruse and subliminal attempt to restore both the historical art object and the act of creation to primacy, whether or not Holly recognized that fact. This attempt was hidden within a complicated explication of the related work of Hans Robert Jauss and Wolfgang Iser in which Holly’s stated objective (the opposite of the hidden agenda) was to describe the importance of the “reception” of the art object in the present. The hidden metatheoretical game attempted to circumvent the postmodern reliance upon the reader of the text, though Holly appeared to be perfectly comfortable with that reliance. Holly had also described the act of signing the art work as the act of giving up all privilege and ownership to the receiver of that object. But, ironically, she provided a comparative analysis of reception aesthetics that returned the power of the work to its production in history through its interception by a fictitious reader, that is anchored in the art object’s historical inception.

To Be Continued

*1 The image, “toggle”, is located at Dynatich/ dyna performance electonics web site, “http://www.dynaonline.com/english/accessories.htm,” (1/11/04: 11:41 A.M.)

*2 The image above, an oil painting by Rene Magritte titled The Human Condition was located on Mark Harden’s Artchive, “http://www.artchive.com/ftp_site.htm,” It is not viewable because of copyright. ©2000, Charly Herscovici, Brussles /ARS, Artist Rights Society, Reproduction, including downloading of Magritte works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

E-mail me! My e-mail address is ZacSfuts@aol.com.

Visit my homepage
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Take a look at:

Holty’s blog for great political commentary and much more from an Australian point of view.

Mark Harden’s Artchive. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the best place to find excellent images of artist’s works on the WWW.

Gay Artist’s Galleries

John Giuffre’s blog Thoughts From A Collapsed Brain


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