February 08, 2004

Back to the Art Object as "Toggle"

Do you remember those entries about the three positions for viewing art, Dear Journal? There were two entries; the first on January 12, 2004, and the second on January 14, 2004. I am finally wandering back to them.

I had decided that the art object itself is more important than the three positions; artist, viewer, or the culture(s) in which they exist. Lest we should forget, the art work is the object on which all three focus energy and intent. I have no doubt that the creator of the art object has his or her animus, and that the present or future viewer sees the object from his or her own perspective based in culture. Nevertheless, the art work is the conduit through which all that intention, vision, and understanding flows. Back in January I described the art object metaphorically as a toggle or switch through which these various currents are shunted back and forth.

Because it is the channel through which these forces are conducted, the art work becomes a powerful dynamis in its own right. However, it is not stationary. It changes over time. No viewer or culture has control over it. The original intent of the artist and the understanding given to it by the culture the artist lived in are carried with the object through time. This intent and understanding are altered by the currents of perception each generation of viewers gives to it, though the original intent may or may not remain clearly present. Academicians, critics, and other artists, Arthur Danto’s “Art World,” give it new esoteric meaning as they spin theory about the object.* New theory may be constructed of bits and pieces of reflected flashes of older theory acquired by the art object. The rest of us ordinary viewers in the "Art World" read the theory, look at the art object and our various understandings modify and / or are integrated with the esoteric view to generate the more exoteric cultural understanding at any given time or place.The art work contains these things and in its various incarnations is like a comet gathering its tail from the flotsam and effluvium of the time and space through which it moves.

The chart below shows how the currents of perception are channeled through the art object. I will continue tomorrow or on Tuesday with my discussion of how the chart works. I will also draw conclusions about the art object based on the idea that it is the toggle through which the various understandings are channeled.


*Danto, Arthur. “The Art World.” Journal of Philosophy 61 (1964):

*1 Image acquired from John Bittinger Klomp

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Betty Bower’s Miracle Cards for wonderful political commentary you can send to your friends. She plays the part to the fullest!=

Holty’s blog for great political comentary 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

Oku’s Surotic Gallery, an erotic art site.

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ArtsJournal.com, the Daily Digest of Arts, Culture, & Ideas.

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