academia InTheory


The Lightswitch Object

A work of art requires affirmation from an audience. Without reception, and the means for reception, there is a very ‘tree falling in the woods’ situation. In considering the artwork as a network of effect, the light switch is a vital element. Formalist theorists prefer to think of the artwork as an independent unit expressing specific autonomy with no reliance on the beholder. The 1970s saw the dawn of conceptual art and with it, the proclamation that a communicated idea was of more value than a self-sufficient art object. An artwork is a fluid and changeable entity made up of many components in an active network. The artwork, and indeed the object, is an event in which there are many counterparts. The value of an ordinary object, a light switch within the gallery, will be considered to argue this.  

“Phone Voice: I wanna play a game.
Casey Becker: [crying] No.
Phone Voice: Then he dies right now!
Casey Becker: [screaming and crying] NO!! No!
Phone Voice: Which is it? [serious tone] Which is it?
Casey Becker: [crying] Well… what kind of a game?
Phone Voice: Turn off the light. You’ll see what kind of game. Just do it! [Casey walks to the light switch.]
Steve Orth: [muffled] No, Casey! No! No! [Casey switch off the lights.] NO! CASEY!!!”

It is common in the horror movie genre for the light switch to be a pinnacle object. To turn on the lights ensures safety in illumination, whereas the darkness of lights off signifies uncertainty and danger.[1] Scream, 1996, is a self-referential horror movie utilising, and making aware of, many conventional tactics of the genre. The characters in Scream are themselves fans of horror movies. When Casey Becker turns off the lights at the request of the phone villain, dubbed Ghostface, Steve Orth knows she will perish.

Cultural Turns InTheory

Context directs Content/Customs

I’m currently writing about the placement of objects and the ability of the white cube to define objects as art objects.

Art is created when an object is contemplated as art.

This has led me to wondering about the removal of context. What happens to the object without the white cube?

Craig-Martins’ An Oak Tree becomes a glass of water again, people can piss in Duchamp’s Fountain and Damien Ortega is no longer the Controller of the Universe and can flog his tools.  But people wouldn’t piss in Duchamp’s Fountain though. Or if they did it would be a performance of sorts. Fountain surpasses the gallery now and can maintain its art object status. Because the white cube stretches farther than its physical attributes. It too is conceptual.

I’ll leave with a gem I’ve discovered of late. This blog is a little bit amazing.

Great Art in Ugly Rooms

Meticulous photoshopping of Pollock into a public school. Decontextualisation ensues.