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°    Regarding the comments of Art & Language: I own my Lacanianism outright, and yes, I am aware of your abortive attempts at humour; Baldessari is funnier. I am also aware of the polemical context in which Kosuth's text was embedded, and its tactical value in that context, and its deployment of false gravitas, but it would surely be more a case of "professional aphasia" to characterise (or dismiss) the text according to these things alone, thus ignoring Kosuth's argument (which was also clearly part of his intent), as you seem to want to do. That's an old Russian Formalist trick: reduce the content to "motivation" then identify the work with the "devices" deployed in achieving its effect. JAb

°    Answer to Art & Language: Some writers behave in a discussion forum like discourse partners and try to find the best in the arguments of co-writers, other writers prefer the attitude of fighters/gladiators in an arena. And some want to be competitors and judges in one person. I prefer the first attitude. TD

°    Regarding Thomas talking to John Abbate. The fetishized philosopheme: it does lead to an irrationality of sorts. Another word might be slogans. The fetishized philosopheme was repeated loudly enough and often enough to succeed in … being repeated. You are talking of a moment when the conversation of the artworld’s inward murmuration was changing, breaking down. If you want to get noticed you’ve got to write one of the headlines. Is this irrational? Well, yes. The mechanisms at work are gadarene. But practical? Of course.

The conversation between T. Dreher and J. Abbate has a certain geeky charm. Two Candides, seeing the best in others. J. Kosuth’s quotations are essentially emotivistic. They impart gravitas to decoration. It is deeply tiresome to have to point this out. It’s not harder to put such quotes from Wittgenstein on the wall than it is to do the same for Joe Bloggs. The later, however, imparts little reflected glory upon the artist.

I am tempted to suggest that your apparent innocence in this regard is not innocence al all or even straightforward immaturity but a particularly unpleasant – in being also self-deluding and self-coercing – professional aphasia. Sad.

J. Abbate is right-ish about what (some) Conceptual Art was ‘at base’, but his rented Lacanianism adds little to the debate. There is however an overcooked obviousness in his apercu. How far back do we go to find the suggestion that (some) Conceptual Art’s raison d’etre is the displacement of modernistic art objects? There are other stories, but they reduce largely to questions of complexity. This has its ramifications with regard to displacements of various kinds.

As to our supposed hypostasization (personification, reification?) of certain materials, etc., etc., I have no idea how to unpack this statement. I’d need some concrete examples. What, for example, is a bureaucratic logic? Does ‘The Trial’ exemplify bureaucratic logic? Does ‘Bleak House’? Does Taxonomy? Does copying ideas from not very good books about Lacan? All, I suspect. If you are suggesting that we (here we go again) seek to displace certain material narratives and to resist the unchallenged ‘power’ of institutions to make ‘contexts’ – then OK. But I still don’t get it. Is J. Abbate aware that our work is, among other things, reflexively self displacing as it is self-describing? Pink Conceptual Art, Origine du Monde as a still life of food, Mrs. Malaprop. You can’t trade not quite dinner party pieces in knowing tones and expect to be taken seriously as critics or interlocutors. What I’m trying to say in my exasperation is this: while we all admit to passing theories and worse (or better) if we are setting out to describe, we had better seek a façon de parler that’s capable of being negotiated as description and not simply as an illocutionary act of self-regard embellished by bibliography.

Something you might look at again is a discussion about ‘pets homes’ (page 239, Volume 2 of the Art & Language Tapies Foundation catalogue). Bringing low. One of the more interesting things about painting is that it attracts the predicates of high art. To be a painting whose raison d’etre is to function as a switch in a CD-rom is to be deflated. To start life as a patch on a screen is to risk no such deflation. The verfremdungs Effekt is still the mother of invention.

°    Response to JAb: The problems begin with the isolation of Joseph Kosuth´s "Art after Philosophy" from its contemporary context: There are more detailled discussions of analytical philosophy in contemporary artists´writings (esp. Art & Language). The question is: Did Kosuth write a manifesto or a theory? I can read "Art after Philosophy" as an interesting manifesto which is more detailled than contemporary art criticism but it is not detailled enough as an art theory. TD

°    [To] TD: I have no problem with Kosuth's actual work (in fact I like it very much) and his later texts are far more considered than "Art After Philosophy". But that text stands as his manifesto and is often anthologized; I think it's valid to criticize it on intellectual and art-theoretical grounds, in isolation from his practice and later "correctives". What you say about its value in the overthrow of the reified model of sensuous aesthetic pleasure that marked modernist art criticism is true, but our temporal distance from the polemics of its original context allows us to examine the text on its own intellectual terms. On this score, it is deficient, and we see that its effectiveness was not a function of its argumentation. JAb

°    To JAb:
Kosuth´s use of Alfred Jules Ayer´s "Language, Truth and Logic" (1936) in "Art after Philosophy" is interesting when he is able to redescribe some relations between concept and context although his theoretical basis sets self-referentiality absolute. I reconstruct Kosuth via second order cybernetics: Artworks become projects and projects are constructed in an autopoietic manner. The self references of artworks with different semantic levels allow recursions, which make external references possible within a wider framework of self references.
I have some problems with the sentence "His manic circling around this fetishised philosopheme leads him into irrationality." "Tautology" became a central term for the criticism of Conceptual Art. Problems of referential functions and terms of identity are discussed in a detailled manner in the early writings of members of Art & Language. Kosuth replaced these discussions and quoted a well known school book of analytical philosophy.
Kosuth´s quotations of Ayer´s definitions of tautology in "Art after Philiosophy" have a tactical value: Kosuth tried to break the established art criticism, especially modernism. And he succeeded.
His own forms of presentation need a much wider conceptual framework than the concept of analytical propositions as art. Kosuth changed the levels of his analysis of the art context (the levels of the work, its context of presentation as three dimensional space, the space of the museum, the concept of art) and the methods of his work often. His use of quotations from different sources lead to exemplifications of conceptual strategies, but not to explicit propositions. His early forms of presentations offer open ends on different levels
Result: I can´t follow the Kosuth-hypertext comparison. TD

°    TD, I was being deliberately provocative, but there was an element of seriousness underpinning that comment. When I said ‘hypertext is the phallus’, I meant that it functions within the discourse of etc., as a privileged signifier, a nodal point around which desire circulates. As such, it *can* lead to fantasy formations that posit the overcoming of some perceived lack within the fallen discourses of the art world--in other words, it promises the overcoming of a state of castration, hence it is phallic. A particularly clear example of this effect is evident in Kosuth’s ‘Art After Philosophy’, where *tautology* is both an object he wishes to possess, and a position he wishes (conceptual art) to occupy. His manic circling around this fetishised philosopheme leads him into irrationality. I'm not saying its the same for you, but for some, perhaps, hypertext structures their discourse similarly. JAb

°    I can´t recognize or reconstruct hypertext as a phallus. The link implies that every file can be linked to every other file. The antagonism between `free link´ (Tim Berners-Lee) and copyright lawsuits against certain links demonstrates that a modern imagination of the author and his copyright doesn´t fit to the original net conditions because copyright owners want to reterritorialize the net via changings in its architecture. Collaborative proceedings with sources available to everyone doesn´t fit to phallic behaviors of a genius or inventor.
Maybe, terms like "libidal economy of Modernism" were useful for a certain phase in a time before the origins of hypertext, but I am not able to recognize the relevance of their transfer to a "new media avantgarde" (Lev Manovich; the term avantgarde is not equal to the term modernism).
The use of hypertext within the net and on CD-ROMs relativize each other. Hypertext organizes text and some not unimportant net aspects within a field called hypermedia. Hypertext is not a fixed medium, because it depends on the possibilities of digitalisation at a certain phase of the development of computers. The combination of hypertext and telecommunications in networks lead at a certain phase of the development of the internet to HTML standards which Ted Nelson critizes: He can´t accept the one-directional link. So hypertext is always relativized by other systems and the criticism of its own actual state. I can´t see a dominance here which could be called "phallic". TD

°    Wasn't Conceptual Art at base an instance of desire compromised by the repression of "aisthesis"? Desire functioned nevertheless, through the perversion and displacement (rather than disappearance) of the art object. Now "hypertext" is the phallus. The libidinal economy of Modernism remains intact. JAb

°    If Art & Language blurting is assigned the term "babel", then babel occupies a position, and continues to function, within a broader constellation of meanings that bind the work. JAb

°    But if meaning fails, then below the surface is . . . babel. That's not necessarily a horrifying possibility.

°    One interesting thing (for me) about Art & Language praxis over the years is the hypostatisation of certain materials and objects, within the context of the museum, as neutral containers of information, or common-sense infrastructures for the dissemination and display of linguistic content. There seems to be a bureaucratic logic driving the formal content of the works, such that one might reasonably describe the practice as a “spectacle of administration.” This would even be one way to describe the experience of the participant who engages the indexing projects beyond the level of the “aesthetic” in the usual sense. The work thus embodies a level of “speech” beneath the surface meanings of its utterances. JAb

°    You imply another conceptualization of esthetics. Your and my conceptualizations use different frameworks for esthetics. If esthetics are used as the central source for conceptualizations of world observations then it may be reasonable to reconstruct theories of Art & Language before that background. TD

°    What can be done about the spectator who believes the works of conceptual art exist on an *aesthetic* continuum that has no outside? Is this viewer necessarily incorrect?

°    Hello Philip, thanks for your reply. I didn´t receive anything from Michael Baldwin until now. Best, TD (

°    Hello Thomas, I sent a few remarks to Mike B as my response to Corris. Did you get them? My email address, if you wish to reply, is


Philip Pilkington

°    echt suuuuuper

°    hello

°    Blurt, Hollywood, Blurt! - No, false start:
Burn, Hollywood, Burn!

°    Blurtings/Self Talks can be "responsive cries" to fictive, virtual or real communities. The Blurtings can postulate engagement or argue for a certain kind of engagement. Engagement is related to a context which needs to be transformed. That need can be the reason for the Blurting. In this case Blurting implies procedures of critical self-embedding into the relevant community/context, and Blurting is part of these procedures.

°    If you are an ardent ruralist, you will avoid the city. If you are resisting the pull of international art, you will exaggerate your regionalism. If you are in the middle of an acknowledge center of American art, you will dislocate yourself from it by making your own scene: by talking together. This is an act of resistance and social transformation. It is only political insofar as all collectivities are political. Which to some isn't saying a great deal. To others, the reification of collectivism is a new kind of political beacon. It's a faintly anarchistic dream world. But if you wish to retain your artistic practice, it may be the best option available. It would be useful to begin to speak of collectivities without zooming off fantasy land.

°    How relate Blurtings/Self Talks and interpassivity to each other? Are they contradictions or complements?

°    Kann "Blurting in A & L" als Konzept verstanden werden, aus "blurts" im Sinne von "self talks" eine Dialogsituation (durch eingegebene und mögliche, durch Browsen bzw. Stöbern entdeckbare Verknüpfungen) zu entwickeln?

°    Heike Baldauf faßt in "Reden gegen die Wand? Einige Überlegungen zu Äußerungen ohne erkennbaren Adressaten" (in: URL: (12.7.2002)) Erving Goffmans Bemerkungen über "blurtings"/"Herausplatzer" (Ders.: Forms of Talk. Philadelphia 1981) zusammen: "`Herausplatzer´ sind erstens `kurze Ausrufe´ (responsive cries), zweitens Flüche (imprecations) und drittens sogenannte `selbstgesprächshafte Äußerungen´ (self talk)." (Baldauf, s.o., S.199)

°    To Jennifer Phipps: "Blurting in Australia" is described in detail by Michael Corris in Another Look at the Social Dimension of Indexing, in: Blurting in A & L online.

°    Blurting in Australia - Mel Ramsden, Ian Burn, Terry Smith at the National Gallery of Victoria, 1973. Blurts came by telex from New York and vv. This exhibition and event was simply called Art & Language. Jennifer Phipps, Curator and organiser of this Art & Language exhibition and event.

°    Please, don´t hesitate to note any kind of remarks into this accumulative forum. TD

°    Bemerkungen jeder Art sind im akkumulativen Forum erwünscht. TD

°    Wer schreibt das alles weiter?


Last update: Monday, July 15, 2002 at 2:30:43 PM.