Saturday, August 6, 2011

Junk mail art

Would art fiction be more enjoyable to read than actual art history?

(A work of art fiction is a text [or otherwise an information package] which describes art which has not actually been produced and/or artists who do not actually exist as such.)

Ostensibly I feel this is a possibility. There is something very curious about the dynamic between work and diversion and the way something can become so engrossing simply by being a diversion of one's productive energies and thinking.

Banality itself becomes seductive when presented as a game; this is apparent from the habitual playing of desktop Solitaire to the addictive potential of Second Life. (I wonder what the aspect of explicit rules and formulated limitations involved has to do with this seductiveness...)

There is something vital about aesthetics in this dynamic, and I think it is vital to the (sensual/first-hand) experience of the work of art. A viewer does not necessarily need to expect that a work of art will serve an instrumental purpose, providing a neat and clear little lesson they can take away, solving a particular problem, or even being something that can be agreed about. Yet a viewer does at least require an understanding of the rules ordering the work to allow the inexhaustible ineffabilities of the aesthetic to be enacted.

Art fiction I imagine presupposes a set of rules as fiction. The rules of fiction are understood quite naturally and are of course amenable to engrossment as diversion. If art history presupposes rules as history (not even to mention as art history), the complexity and incommensurability is of an altogether different order than that of fiction and, I would argue, holds less potential for aesthetic enjoyment.

A text in either event, however schematic, presupposes fundamentally textual interests, and this presupposition I suspect is inherent and native to the act of reading.

As an art historian/critic/philosopher, I may treat works of art rhetorically. Indeed as an artist, I may produce works of art rhetorically. Doing so will satisfy these fundamentally textual interests I suspect of texts - that is, the work of art is treated ultimately as an instrumental support for some extrinsic bit of information - and yet I don't imagine such a text, as art history, would have the same potential for engrossment as a text of art fiction.

Art fiction is self-substantial/self-substantiating. Art fiction is rhetorical, and its fictional objects are almost certain to be so as well, yet as art itself, no such extrinsic ends need be necessary and so they need not be assumed by its reader.