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Free Content Philosophy, culture, image: Rancire's constructivism

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Jacques Rancire's theory of the sensible is an attempt to frame and secure the relationship between politics and aesthetics, art and design on the same surface. Accordingly, the reconstruction of the sensible appearances of the world of the built environment, of the dcor of the sensible, as Rancire describes it is more than the negation of bourgeois appearances in the name of either a radical aesthetics or a radical politics; it is, rather, the common invention of sensible forms and material structures for a life to come. In this respect Rancire's theory has much in common with the historic avant-garde. Following the constructivism of Rodchenko and El Lissitsky, representation here is not just the symbolic life of pictures, but the very materiality of things and their relations. Yet Rancire has little time for the active politicization of art, insofar this destroys, he asserts, the potential democracy of art. This leaves his constructivism in a weakened critical position. This essay explores the hiatuses and limitations of Rancire's cultural theory.

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Keywords: aesthetics; avant-garde; pragmatism; representation; sensible; subjectivization

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Wolverhampton.

Publication date: 01 March 2010

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  • Philosophy of Photography is a new peer-reviewed journal devoted to the scholarly understanding of photography. It is not committed to any one notion of photography nor, indeed, to any particular philosophical approach. The purpose of the journal is to provide a forum for debate on theoretical issues arising from the historical, political, cultural, scientific and critical matrix of ideas, practices and techniques that may be said to constitute photography as a multifaceted form. In a contemporary context remarkable for its diversity and rate of change, the conjunction of the terms 'philosophy' and 'photography' in the journal's title is intended to act as a provocation to serious reflection on the ways in which existing and emergent photographic discourses might engage with and inform each other.
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