The aesthetics of labor

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Why do we use the term "art work"?

Essentially, this is a marketing term aimed at a community of consumers and producers with two objectives: one, to have a conventional means of attributing value to something they want to have as an asset or resource; and/or two, to advertise that they are interested in promoting it. (An asset is property; a resource is property put to a specified use.)

But what makes art a type of work is not the essential concern of those who do art. Instead the core matter is what makes work "art".

Art is a mode; a mode is a way of doing something. Work is artistic when the decisions being made during the invention and construction in the work are driven by the experience of how the effects of the decisions generate the options and requirements for the next decisions. The key contrast, then, is between the work using itself as its framework for generation instead of using external requirements of production or consumption as its framework.

This is not at all the abused notion of "art for art's sake" -- another marketing term. Instead, a correct and useful notion is the term "state of the art", in which "the art" is a body of identified outcomes within the labor's disciplinary technique, discovered through the ongoing labor of the practice and considered highly informative and valuable to the future labor.

Audiences may take it (art) or leave it, and in taking it (through commissions, appropriation or purchasing) may package it with a capital "A". As part of an ecosystem that generates cultural support for art, this is always potentially a good thing, but the danger in it is that the commerce it engenders will obliterate the basic meaning of the art mode in work. Art does not predict or dictate the motive of work; work is begun and continued for many reasons. But when the work is being done, art may direct its progression.

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This page contains a single entry by published on June 8, 2008 9:10 AM.

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