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Art and the viewing context

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on August 28, 2010

The Subterranean, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. All rights reserved, Gaétan Charbonneau ©


Is Art now mostly created by the viewing context?
It is interesting to think about the criteria used to define an image as a work of art, or not. The continuous flow of images distributed over the internet has given me opportunity to reflect on this. What if a work of art was now simply the consequence of it’s viewing context?
Has anybody felt slightly uncomfortable seeing the image of a child dying from starvation, beautifully printed on chromogenic paper, framed and matted in a art show? Is this image of a dying child a true work of art?
I have seen images in art galleries that were both technically and aesthetically inferior to some of the images I have seen in specialized contemporary stock agency. If for example, the shinny close-up of a mouth, printed on glossy paper and delivered in the mail was instead framed and exhibited in a high profile museum, would this image be redefined as a work of art? Would it be better than some art in the museum own collection? In other words, can the same image be redefined based on where it is viewed? I guess so. It is therefore the intention behind the usage, and the viewing context that will create the work of art, not the image itself.
The notion of discovery will gradually become obsolete based on the instantaneous nature of the internet, making it impossible to determine who did what, first. It is quite possible that the criteria defining a work of art has completely changed, now more than ever, and that the existing remains of the19th century conception of a work of art is being challenged to become a thing of the past, once and for all.
Adios all

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