Unreal Nature

March 24, 2019

In Its Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:15 am

… messages about time or memory, about the gods or the creation, about first things or last things …

This is from ‘The Plural Temporality of the Work of Art’ by Alexander Nagel and Christopher Wood (2010):

… No device more effectively generates the effect of a doubling or bending of time than the work of art, a strange kind of event whose relation in time is plural. The artwork is made or designed by an individual or by a group of individuals at some moment, but it also points away from that moment, backward to a remote ancestral origin perhaps, or to a prior artefact, or to an origin outside of time in divinity. At that same time it points forward to all its future recipients who will activate and reactivate it as a meaningful event. The work of art is a message whose sender and destination are constantly shifting.

… A materialist approach to historical art leaves the art trapped within its original symbolic circuits. It tends not even to notice that the artwork functioned as a token of power in its time, precisely by complicating time, by reactivating prestigious forebears, by comparing events across time, by fabricating memories.

[line break added] The only time-bending agency made available to the historical work by a materialist approach is one that reproduces its token-like existence in the symbolic economy of luxury and taste: namely, as an absurdly overvalued heirloom of a modern, consumption-based society; a collector’s item or museum piece in other words. Such an approach will not help us interpret the messages about time or memory, about the gods or the creation, about first things or last things phrased in the wordless plastic language or embedded in the material make-up of paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings and buildings.

-Julie

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