No medium just a shell: how works of art configure their medium
Author: Halsall, Francis
Source: Journal of Visual Art Practice, Volume 6, Number 1, 10 May 2007 , pp. 45-59(15)
Abstract:In this article, I argue that the question of what works of art do is inextricably bound up with an ontological question of what it is that is doing the doing. In others words, the question of what is being done by the artwork cannot be answered without answering what the agency for that action is. First, I introduce the problem of medium in art after modernism. I argue that the terms end of art, postmodern and postmedium are commensurate, and that all require a rethinking of concept of medium in art practice. I then argue that Niklas Luhmann's account of medium (in his sociologically grounded systems theory) provides an answer to the question: What Work Does the Work of Art Do? My argument is that the work of art gives the medium form, configures it and thus actively constitutes it as a medium. As a concluding example, I turn to Pierre Huyghe and Phillipe Parreno's collaborative project No Ghost Just a Shell (19992002) and demonstrate how Luhmann's account of medium/form can be used to explain the work.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2007-05-10
- The domain of visual art hosts a multitude of artistic forms and practices. The Journal of Visual Art Practice supports research across the entire range of this varied field. The journal engages with the progressive nature of the subject, reflecting upon the changing terrain of art in recent years.
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