Relational Art as Social Semiotic

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Relational Art as Social Semiotic

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Title: Relational Art as Social Semiotic
Author: Riley, Howard
Abstract: Abstract: This article, a revised and extended version of a presentation to the “6th International Conference of the Arts in Society,” Berlin, May 2011, elaborates the dialectical relationship between visual art forms and the social structures in which they are produced, by extending Robert Witkin’s taxonomy first presented in his 1995 book “Art and Social Structure.” Witkin tracked the history of visual art from pre-modern times, for which he invented the label “invocational art,” to the advent of Modernism, described in terms of “evocational” and “provocational art.” The article then extrapolates from Witkin’s model to include post-Modernism, for which the author ’s term “revocational art” has been coined, and goes on to discuss Nicolas Bourriaud’s concept of “Altermodernism,” his term for describing the relationship between contemporary art practices and the social conditions of today, for which the author suggests an alternative-”convocational art”-a synonym for Bourriaud’s term “relational art.” The paper then introduces a systemic-functional semiotic model for the analysis of relational art, and concludes with a demonstration of the model as applied to the work of Anton Vidokle.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10875/222
Date: 2011

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