The redescription of the world

Conference item


Baker, Steve 2014. The redescription of the world.
AuthorsBaker, Steve
Abstract

‘The redescription of the world’ was a public lecture (the Volmer Fries Distinguished Lecture) for the symposium Sensibilities: Artists and Living Systems, Animals and Plants, in the EMPAC Theater, Troy, New York, in April 2014. The abstract for my lecture read as follows: ‘A persistent problem in the relation of art and theory is the tendency for artworks to be appropriated as mere illustrations of theoretical perspectives. If anything, the problem is exacerbated in the case of art that engages with questions of animal life, where both the art and the animals are frequently drained and flattened in the process of their theoretical appropriation. How might this be resisted? How might the work of language and the work of material animal form find productive common ground without one diminishing the other? The relatively modest notions of description and redescription will be explored in order to build on Niklas Luhmann’s resonant observation that “the function of art is to make the world appear within the world.”’ The lecture included discussion of work from my Scapeland series, which I gave as one of my examples of how artworks might be understood as flawed, provisional redescriptions of the world, by means of their offering what Luhmann calls ‘improbable evidence’, and subject to what Adam Phillips sees as ‘unknowably further’ redescription. One particularly productive and unexpected outcome of the lecture was a meeting the following day with two members of the audience who wanted to find a way to show further work from the Scapeland series in the USA. This led directly to my participation in the exhibition What Does Art Add?: Figuring the More-than-Human World, City Without Walls (cWOW), Newark, New Jersey ,10 April – 29 May, 20155, curated by Janell O’Rourke and Kathryn Eddy.

Year2014
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/624356
hdl:10545/624356
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Publication dates2014
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Deposited08 Jan 2020, 09:53
ContributorsUniversity of Derby
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https://repository.derby.ac.uk/item/94577/the-redescription-of-the-world

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