Tuesday, December 9, 2008

(Re)Treading Old Ground

Judgments about Identity are influenced by context, in large measure because of expectations. Context then helps define identity? Does sticking a frame around something transform the something from what it was into Art? Plenty of artists, critics, etc., would think it silly to still be asking. Didn't we settle this -- art is Art so long as the artist intends it to be Art?

Empty frames hanging on the wall may offer the illusion of art on the wall: the visual impression plays with long ingrained expectations; if it's inside a frame, it's art. But it's an illusion. Beyond the initial play on expectations, the section of the wall inside the frame offers no more to viewers than the section of wall outside the frame.

A vase on a table in a house is taken as a container for water and flowers, although a particularly elegant, distorted or otherwise visually interesting vase will also feel like Art, or at least, Decor. A vase under lights on a pedestal in a gallery is taken as art. It helps if the vase looks more than functional, that is, if the form is either elegant or distorted or otherwise visually interesting. Simply setting an ordinary object inside a gallery or museum space with a clever or not so clever label conveys the expectation of art but it does not transform the ordinary object. On the other hand, an object or objects can be the "materials" for art and set in a way that transform the whole into something that offers more than functional objects.

No comments: