Magazine article Art Monthly

Things

Magazine article Art Monthly

Things

Article excerpt

Paul O'Kane's unreconstructed conclusion (Features AM356) that it is 'important to continue to believe in things' is hampered by its in-built assumption that objects are auratic and can save us. If the white cube space is the logical outcome of Martin Luther's redesign of the church interior, many contemporary gallery goods might be seen as faux religious, and so it is a bad error to expect them to provide much apart from weirdness or the pretext for private-view banter. Even Damien Hirst's barrow-boy amping up of Duchampian aesthetics, which bypasses thought and goes straight to the amygdala, only underwrites mortality by flogging dead animals as apodictic truth and doesn't force anyone to become a paid-up believer of any stripe.

Why not treat the object as a non-absolute indexical sample of the fold or quantum wave activity, a temporary solid bound by topological/gravitational pressure? Doubtless encoding flux and form inside each other would antagonise commodity-based business. Indeed Duncan Woolridge in the same issue spots this ongoing collapse of 'a digital or analogue, or material and immaterial dichotomy', calling Sara MacKillop's secular stuff 'works', a Martin Creed-like token, industrial yet without the grime, the processual markers of thought and careful arrangement, however whimsical.

Terry Atkinson (Reviews AM333) takes these issues further, asserting that the invisibility of subatomic counter-intuitive events, aka string theory (that offers new descriptions of Das Ding), is actually inimical to successful art careers firmly grounded in classical Newtonian mechanics, and that things per se block cognitive enquiry, which in turn might be developed through 'a particular body of artefacts, perhaps prominently textual, perhaps conversation, perhaps some combination of some or all of these'.]

Michael Hampton

London SWII

Paul O'Kane replies

The 'thing' is so intrinsic and fundamental to our culture and vocabulary that it invariably provokes thought and debate, so I am pleased but not surprised that my article stimulated Michael Hampton to respond with his views. …

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