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Arts 1 Reading 1

Preface: Art and Society
Art is a signifying practice which is
grounded in society and history. Its
specificity is comprising of: elements,
forms, media, techniques, styles, and
Signifiers (material data)
Signifieds (concepts)
These two constitute the formal
aspect of the work.
Its material aspects are signs that have a
meaning—conveying potential (derived
from human psychophysical experiences
and cultural codes) which is realized in
the relations of the work, since the
signifiers are tied up with the signifieds.
An approach like this finds a common
ground for interpretations on arts to the
world; human psychological experiences
are universally shared, and separated
nationals and localities have culture codes
shared throughout.
It is possible that a work of art may reveal
contradictions that reflect underlying
ideological tensions, or the surface of the
work’s dominant discourse may reveal
holes in a symptomatic reading.
These holes are also named the
“unconsciousness of the work”, these are
where the contrary elements break
The reader, in this case, does not absorb
these contradictions into a structuralist or
functionalist whole.
As per Eagleton, “the task of the critic is to
not gloss over contradictions but to
foreground them” in order to show the
work changed terrain of contention.
The relation between the work and the
reader (or viewer), one does not find a
single unilateral thread of meaning but
one finds a rich polyphonic text on
different planes and voices.
Meaning wasn’t used to be the essential
kernel that discloses itself after one
throws away the husk which is the form.
The work is referred to its “horizon of
meaning,” which takes into account the
various and possible meanings that
operate within the problematic of the
The work of art is viewed in the dialogic
situation of the work and its viewer. It is
necessary to emphasize that the work of
art is seen not as a closed hermetic text
but as an open work in which the signs
are referred back to their referents in the
real world.
Art also exists in a dialogic text is not
purely self-referential—and we choose to
differ from the theoreticians of the
“infinite play of signifiers” and the
postmodernist proponents of pure
surface texture—one chooses to forestall
the formalist closure of the work by
resituating it as visual sign and text in the
real world.
The concern to bring out worldviews and
ideologies of a work does not end there
but proceeds to investigations how these
ideas, values, narratives, discourses,
worldviews have a bearing on our lives
and interests, and our social context as a