The Theory of Enchantment and the Enchantment of Theory: The Art of Alfred Gell (Report)
Oceania 2010, July, 80, 2
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1998 saw the posthumous publication of a book entitled Art and Agency that aimed to articulate the first anthropological theory of art--i.e. a theory applicable to all forms of art, across all periods and societies, and capable of explaining the role of the production and circulation of art in social interactions. Art and Agency, by Alfred Gell (who died before finishing and proofreading the manuscript), provides a novel theoretical definition of art in a challenging text that uses sophisticated terminology and a sometimes confused argument, and borrows from a wide range of intellectual currents: Peircean semiotics, pragmatism, interactionism, philosophy of mind, cognitive anthropology and Husserlian phenomenology, among others. How might art be defined? For Arthur Danto (1981), two objects that are indistinguishable at a perceptual level may in fact be radically different when considered aesthetically: one may be an artwork (Fountain, by Duchamp), while the other may merely be a trivial artefact (a urinal). To this extent, the essence of art does not reside in any visual properties. Rather, an artwork exists merely insofar as it is interpreted as such within a historically determined artworld on the basis of the intentional structure attributed to it by the artist. Recontextualizing Danto's thought, which he greatly admired, (1) Gell argued that the sole factor determining the range of objects that anthropologists ought to refer to as art is the context of social relations in which objects are embedded. Such objects cannot therefore be defined a priori. From this theoretical perspective, anything may be seen to constitute an artwork. The realm of art encompasses objects apprehended as products or instruments of the agency of the subjects who inspire, make, use or contemplate them, and includes objects that operate as extensions of people insofar as they manifest and realize their intentions and capacities for action.
- 2,99 €
- Categoria: Ciências Sociais
- Publicado: 01/07/2010
- Editora: University of Sydney
- Tamanho da impressão: 37 páginas
- Línguas: Inglês