Theory Seminar: The Shape of Behaviour 2

Rosalind Krauss in her article ‘Allusion and Illusion in Donald Judd’ criticises Judd, who believes in creating works with no allusion or illusion, saying that his work does allude to other things.  Allusion can be a property of the thing itself (e.g. I recognise a bottle because I know bottles because of my culture. Do I believe there is no thing there other than a bottle?) and as such, Judd’s efforts cannot escape this.

In order to connect with art that is just ‘to be’ we have to be in a state of non-being, as beings, we bring our own experiences to to the piece, experiences that are culturally dictated because things can be seen by different cultures with different interpretations, how do I know that my perception of ‘X’ is X?

Our perception does not give words meaning. The word gives the sensation meaning, our language designates things that are external. My way of life enables me to have my body or my relationship to my body (I am comfortable sitting for hours, but kneeling causes pain and is uncomfortable in long stints, someone from japan would be the opposite.) even reflex phrases such as ‘OW’ are culture dependant. Form of life is the limit to our language and the way we exist gives meaning to our language.

What therefore is necessary to prove what you say? Sensation is not enough. Structure isn’t enough. The only way a word has meaning is because I’m part of a form of life. It is external from either me or the object.

Krauss says that things themselves have inherent meaning, Merleau-Ponty called this perceptual faith. What does it mean to be a body? It means to be engaged with the world. ‘Perception is geared to the world’, it is not to be a world and an outer active perception but to be a mesh of the two as a body. There is no separation between meaning and objecthood: Things have to have some sense in which they give themselves to us, the subject and the world are of one flesh. Both I am something that can sense or can be sensed just as much as any ‘thing’ can.

When you accept the body as the basis of subjectivity the thing in itself has the potential of allusion and illusion. Illusion is the realised element, as there is no thing itself that is the summation of all views (When looking at a cube, you can see 3 sides, but you still know the other 3 sides are there to complete the cube). The thing itself is seen as the journey from one perception to another.

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