Monday, November 24, 2014

Lesley Chamberlain continues with van Gogh's Boots.
For Heidegger in The Origin of the Work of Art the work makes itself anew each time it ‘goes to work’. In fact his idea meant he could perfectly well accommodate van Gogh’s Shoes. Heidegger believed the role of the artist was to place the work in an effective context so that it could spring alive. By spring alive, or, as he said, create a clearing for being, he meant I think present us with an intense and sublime sense of the materiality of our existence, skin against rain, leaf against stone. Closely related to the philosophical vision of Being and Time (1927) his art thoughts pre-war were ontological, about the work of art’s co-being with our own, and they still toyed with the idea of true or authentic experience. Anticipating developments much later in the century, and mostly in a leftwing political camp, Heidegger declined an interest in the artist’s personality and his formal practice and favoured the experience of the common man of a certain reality.
The problem I see with this is that, in OWA, the Boots don't fully "go to work" as a work of art, because they're hanging in a gallery. The paradigm example of a work of art in OWA is the Greek temple at Paestum; what is called "public art" further down the post.
That certainly doesn't seem to square with Heidegger's own statement that "Even a cautious insight into the special character of this art causes one to suspect that truth, as unconcealment of Being, is not necessarily dependent on embodiment." (source
There, Heidegger is discussing sculpture, but I think his thinking applies to architecture, to the Greek temple. The line before:

"Sculpture: the embodiment of the truth of Being in its work of
instituting places."

Sculpture only works, in say, a public square. It might gather people around it for whom the statue is meaningful, making the public square a "place". The same statue didn't work as art, when it was one of an inventory of sculptures, stored in a shipping container, mid-pacific.

The Greek temple also works as art, gathering people. But the gathering, is not dependent on the temple's embodiment. The truth of Being can work anytime people gather. Matt. 18:20: "For where two or three are gathered together", there is the truth of Being, potentially.
Are you then implying that painting is not a form of "embodiment"? If so then wouldn't it seem that you are in agreement with the quote i provided? which would then be contrary to Chamberlain's remark that a work of art "present us with an intense and sublime sense of the materiality of our existence"? Or am i utterly misreading all this (which in all likelihood i am)?
I'm not comfortable with the word embodiment, because I can ascribe it different interpretations. It seems to me that a portrait or a bust, if the artist's done a decent job, is by definition embodying its subject. Is abstract art embodying? Depends on how you define embodying. Does Duchamp's Fountain embody anything at all, or is it purely conceptual?

I am saying that a sculpture or painting, only function when the gather people around in their everyday practices. And not when they're in a museum.

"truth, as unconcealment of Being" (ἀλήθεια) does not require a work of art.

hmmm… seems i've opened up a kettle of fish here, particularly in relation to terminology, for i would say that a portrait or bust merely represents its subject, whereas conceptual art (Duchamp, Bochner, etc.) embodies concepts. on the other hand, the embodiment of the truth of being, in my view, is not dependent on either of the above, but may occur in representational or conceptual work, it may also occur in conditional works which rely more on direct perception such as those of Robert Irwin, James Turrell and Olafur Eliasson. Irwin is a master of creating masterful works in everyday spaces, however Turrell or Doug Wheeler also create highly effective works which depend upon being experienced in an isolated environment, so i'm not sure one can restrict the function of an artwork in the manner you describe, although your statement specifies only sculpture and painting. Irwin's own recognition was that a painting does not end at the frame but is dependent upon its environment—lighting, support, colour of wall and floor, cracks, shadows, other objects in the same space, location, etc. Hence the artwork, even a painting, encompasses one's entire horizon; which seems to echo Giacometti's struggle with sculpture.
If the issue is "direct perception" of art either as an isolated work or including how it is presented, I think those are aesthetic, ontic, matters, whereas Heidegger is interested in how an art work works ontologically. Not the aesthetic considerations aren't important, but I think Heidegger's after something else here.

In the paragraph at the top of the page your quote was from:
"Sculpture : an embodying bringing-into-the-work of places, and with
them a disclosing of regions of possible dwellings for man, regions of the possible tarrying of things surrounding and concerning man."

An art work which depends upon being experienced in an isolated environment would not work as a possible dwelling, may not concern man? Maybe I'm misreading Heidegger.

Everyone else translates verkörpert as embody, but I like to go with incarnate, which leads me to consider that Heidegger is referring to plastic art works, and that conceptual art wouldn't work. I don't know, maybe a purely geometrical sculpture could be put to work to gather mathematicans in their dwelling. Maybe I'm just too materialistic.

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