Dematerialisation of the art object

Keywords: Modernism, Articulation of modernism, Origin of Dematerialisation of art object, Materiality and conceptual art, Immateriality in a post-modern, Context of digital materiality, Arts and Fashion Assignment Writing services

Martin Heidegger claims that artist is the origin of work and work is the origin of artist.  Heidegger deepens the relationship between artist and artwork through adding a dimension of art. Art includes nature and thus, resist definition because it imposes boundaries and frames which are likely to injure nature. Claude Levi-Strauss analogy between work of art and object is worth mentioning. Levi-Strauss added that what makes an object an artwork is not objected itself in isolation but it enclosed arrangements as well as the possible relationship between objects which has created the status of artwork  (Fry, 2014).

Lehman et al (2012) added that conceptual art claim on art is significant and meta-level characters of conceptual represent a claim on art qua art. Conceptual art uses artist means when compared with conventional art of sculptures and painting. Conceptual art practices have cognitive dimensions based on reflection and intellect. Departing from theory and importance of art history with continuing effect on art practices, this essay explores the concept of dematerialization.

Therefore, the aim of this essay is to evaluate the notion of dematerialisation using the art object as final product or part of artwork.

Marcel Duchamp and Greenberg modernism

According to Bonneau (2015), the foundation of conceptual art emerged from work of Marcel Duchamp and Greenberg modernism. Marcel Duchamp, a French artist, performed creative act using experience and experimentation with readymade is considered as important precursors of conceptual art practices. Duchamp submitted a urinal upside down left great impact on people how consider art either as sculpture or painting as shown in diagram. The choice of ordinary object from outside world represents what does not depend on visuality for aesthetic aspect but his nominal act of art stem from his choice.

Dematerialisation of art objects

Rodrigues (2015) elaborated that it shows choice of artist changes ordinary object into art object rather object aesthetic quality. Furthermore, Clement Greenberg in his renowned essay ‘modernist painting’ discuss Kant’s aesthetic model as his point of departure. Greenberg view of painting in context of flatness is considered as sort of aesthetic Organon. The prominent feature of modernism is self-critical attitude of Modernism and i.e. it precludes interdisciplinary.

Articulation of modernism

The notion of purity is key theme in Greenberg articulation of modernism. The distinction between different media and different types has particular art in mind stem from independence from other arts. Thus, art to be pure borrow effect from other arts has to be eliminated. The core concept for Greenberg art is purifying its means and self-critical activity. Unlike two dimension approach to painting, Greenberg added three dimensionalities’ to sculpture and art by stating that to preserve autonomy, painting must get rid of everything which it shares with sculpture (McLean, 2015). To this point, formalism and modernism are discussed together because of aesthetic response by former and original of conceptual art can be traced from lateral. Osborne added that the important priority to elaborate the conceptual character is chronological order. In addition, Godfrey claims that two important sources of conceptual art practices are Fluxus and Minimalist. The work of Joseph Kosuth, Henry Flynt and Sol LeWitt are important to understanding the concept of conceptual art (Demarco, 2016).

Dematerialisation of art objects

Origin of Dematerialisation of art object

Cray (2014) discussed that one of the most striking aspects of conceptual art is ‘dematerialisation of art object’. John Chandler and Lucy Lippard coined the notion of dematerialisation in article ‘the dematerialisation of Art’ which was published in 1968. According to Chandler and Lippard (1968), dematerialisation is professed ultra-conceptual art which focuses exclusively on the thinking process and thus, an object becoming wholly obsolete. Dematerialisation enclosed a wide and diverse range of artistic reflections and practices.

The three important works include ‘assemblages, environment and happenings’ by Allan Kaprow’s, George Brecht Fluxus-inspired ‘event’ and ‘self-starring video works’ of Bruce Nauman. Lateral, two important works are ‘Touch of Blossom’ by Gilbert and George and ‘Museum of Motta Art’ by Les Levine’s imaginary. Based on these work, dematerialisation includes art and aesthetic whereby ideas and disclosure do not have a formal convention of the medium which constitute the principle element to define the object (Johnson, 2015).

Feigenbaum (2012) explained that the critique of an object through an understanding of conceptual art is widespread. Douglas Huebler stated that the world is full of more or less interesting object and Mel Ramsden and Ian Burn clears the air of objects. However, critics like Ursula Meyer discuss de-objectification and abolition of art-object. Terry Cohn presented the perspective of ‘post-objective perspective’ whereas Jack Burnham presents the perspective of ‘un-objects’.

In addition, Atkinson explained the residual materiality in which notion of art ex-object is viewed as material dimension superfluous.  Dematerialisation comprehends material as a predisposition for concepts of reconextualisation, reorganisation and reinterpretation. In the context of conceptual art, materiality is set free from the object which is connected to the non-transcended and un-idealised realm of the real world because of possibilities and problems associated with artistic works. Conceptual art is speculative and imaginative mediator between aesthetic potency and political codedness of materiality (Kelomees, 2016).

Materiality and conceptual art

Wiberg et al (2013) stated that the exchange between materiality and conceptual art highlight the possibility of materiality as conceptual involvement rather as an object or formalistic work. This is referred as post-formalists which pay importance and attention in terms of the physical process of creation and thus implied involvement through contingency, indeterminacy, irreversibility and instability. Jackson Pollock as a modern painter has performed experiment within the framework of painting as object and visual expression presenting limited and stretched canvas.

Pollack’s gesture as post-minimalists express transgresses boundaries of the medium in order to work with processes diversely and directly in themselves. Richard Serra (1968) presented an infinite list of a transitive verb such as to store, to roll, to twist which represent Serra aim is to handle materiality in a different perspective. The approach leads into casting and splashing at the same time. Serra threw melted onto the floor, corner and the wall and thus work mark distributed materiality (Muller, 2014).

Dematerialisation of art objects

The glue pouring and concurrent asphalt by Robert Smithson’s express materiality with processes in order to avoid a conventional sense of making objects. In the experiment, material pours down the slope from the back truck floor or directly from the can. Smithson’s highlighted that act is important rather than results and thus work abandon or destroyed after completion. Moreover, an example of Gordon Matta-Clark works on processes of materiality known as ‘Partially Buried Woodshed’ (Loschke, 2016).

Aguiar (2014) discussed that Gordon filmed the processes of bisect a suburban wooden house which was left for demolition by knocking part of its foundation and cutting it down to the middle which makes one side of inclined. This shows object had to be destroyed in order it can work in a practical and conceptual manner representing aesthetic potential associated with materiality in the liberated and profound sense. In functionalistic and rationalistic context, artists set materiality into fluid state and free from object showing expressive and fluctuating relations.

Traditional perspective of painting and sculpture

De Jaegher (2013) assert that the notion of art object using connotations such as product, end, result as well as materiality is convenient when compared to traditional perspective of painting and sculpture. The object-status of traditional art object is not identical with object status of conceptual artworks. In conventional fashion where art object is physical and fulfilling aesthetic function with formal and mental qualities, the conceptual artwork in fashion lack physical object as a final product as well as limited to fulfil an aesthetic function. The distinction between artwork and art object is that object does not cease in relation to artwork because conceptual artwork includes art object.

Comelli et al (2015) claims that Richard Wollheim works on artwork ‘Art and Its objects and makes distinction between artwork as type and artwork as a physical object. Edward Hopper’s work highlights the instances of putting sculpture and painting as physical object. The point of physical object hypothesis between the identity of artwork and physical object is considered as same (Michelangelo David work which is the exhibit in Galleria dell’ Academia of Florence. In such case, if marble sculpture is destroyed, does it mean artwork is destroyed?

Richard Wollheim works on artwork

Musical artwork in relation to artwork and its stance

Gordon (2013) confirmed that the musical artwork consider the relation among artwork and its stance and work of Miguel de Cervantes added that book as physical object is presented but it is identical to artwork itself. The work of Gregory Currie in context of artwork in literary stated that destruction of book would not result in destruction of work itself but original or copies cannot be identified as artwork. Wollheim added that artwork of these types is eventually copies and performances of them are tokens. The interpretations of dematerialisation into systems show that post-object aesthetic is extendable through artist involvement into cybernetics and systems.

Feigenbaum (2012) added that the work of Marshall McLuhan, Norbert Wiener and Claude Shannon consider art as information processing in the multimedia field. The three most factors consider in the work is media, communication and economy based on scientific discoveries rather technology alone. The transition towards system-orientated culture from object-orientated is evident from work of Jack Burnham work ‘superscientific culture’

The focus is on changes emanates from the way things are done rather from things itself and thus applying this approach to conceptualization and art. Thus, process aesthetic differ from system aesthetic in such way that system aesthetic considers circulation, processing and development whereas process aesthetic focus on effect, action and production. The conceptualisation of materiality in system aesthetic is based on real-time, contextual relations and feedback. Thus, materiality is contextual sense is interrelated through social economic, linguistic and situation factors. Technology has the significant role in system aesthetic by offering new materials and formats for artists to beyond institutional context and considers work with reality rather the autonomous object (Halsall, 2016).

Real time exhibition of communication

The system aesthetic in News by Haacke painted the real time exhibition of communication. The work uses non-aesthetic information into the institution from outside world which shows what happened inside the institution cannot be separated from outside world. The study critics the so-called white cube proclaimed and added that there was no inside the institution situation. Moreover, the work of Jack Burnham ‘exhibition software’ elaborated growing symbiosis of man-machine relationship highlighting advance technological culture (Nash, 2016).

According to Burnham, technology is not a procedure but it rather acts as an instrument to redefine the aesthetic awareness of perception, media and subject matter. Burnham metaphorised conceptual art as software which attempts to integrate profound involvement with social, cultural and critical consciousness. System aesthetic as mediator allows expressing through creating open space for reflexions using performativity in these interfaces. Haacke discusses the Burnham system aesthetic and stated it entails overlapping and close interaction of art between everyday life and art. Nevertheless, Michael Morris uses system theory to integrate art and the world (Tyson, 2015).

Context of digital materiality

Nicholson (2013) highlighted that Jean-Francois Lyotard’s term of immaterial has coined notion of immateriality as a materiality. The immateriality in the context of digital materiality elaborates uncertainties involved which can be conceptualised by art as psychical materialities. Thus, in digital materiality context, immateriality relates to human communication rather relating to psychical properties. Material disappears as an independent entity and signifies as the interaction of identity in which materiality refers to subject rather towards a person.

Immateriality in a post-modern or post-dualistic sense, it evolves perspective and matter on materiality and conceptualisation as inseparable and forces materiality comprehension beyond autonomy, essence and object. The emergence of the digital network in last two decades has challenged the materialistic understanding of immateriality (De Jaegher, 2013).

The description of network culture by Castells encyclopaedic highlight network compromises of complex and dynamic systems which are rather horizontal and have open-ended distributed structure to facilitate interactive communication which is connected through heterogeneous contextual relations based on established boundaries and positions. Therefore, in a digital network, immateriality is not limited to object or priori ground but it involves a continuous flow of streams, rhythms and energies in the network (Jones, 2015). The question of network aesthetic is how present and interpret the data using software. An interesting is offered by Web Stalker is the alternative web browser. The bicolored graphic mapping of the browsing world was created to counter flashy looking commercial browser layouts. Rather presenting the web as pre-packaged and familiar, ‘The Web Stalker’ presents a new dynamic and transform the meaning of materiality (Serra list of verbs) through user interaction (Parikka, 2015).

De Jaegher (2013) elaborated that the work show computer-based art depicts with immateriality in networks which defines pragmatic understanding and reductive metaphor beyond the notion of object. Artists’ exploration of different forms of activism as affirmative and subversive to answer the power structure depicts the issue of immateriality in the networks. The technology and global capitalistic corporations influence cultural, social and economic conceptualizations and works of groups such as Carbon Defense League, the Yes Men and knowbotic are examples of this trend.

The issue of surveillance in network aesthetics is prominent whereas immateriality in the network allows free distribution of information and free communication as well as it facilitates surveillance by the institutions and government. Artists have attempted to avoid surveillance through ‘Carnivore’ by Radical software or ‘TraceNoizer’ by LAN (Jones, 2015) shown in the diagram below.

‘Carnivore’ by Radical software or ‘TraceNoizer’

The conceptualisations of materiality in social and cultural context highlight that aesthetic force is not beautiful object but it enables to imagines and participate in the construction of the digital world. The tendency of fetishise technology in network aesthetic is much founded in computer based art and it elaborates the capabilities independently from the idea and purpose it serves. This highlight how immateriality in a network using art informed human concepts, actions and values rather rationality of machine. The example in this context is the work Heath Bunting work in collaboration with Kayle Brandon.

The work such as ‘The Status Project’, ‘The BorderXing guide’ and ‘Junk mail remainder’ challenged the traditional perspective of technology and replace blind acceptance with Skepticism. As a media chameleon, Bunting does not belief in authority, particularly with technology. The work concluded that technology needs to adapt rather adapting life to technology (Harrison, 2013).


The concept of dematerialisation was explored by Chandler and Lippard and linked dematerialisation with art object. The distinction between art object and artwork does not cease because conceptual artwork includes art object. Thus, process aesthetic differ from system aesthetic in such way that system aesthetic considers circulation, processing and development whereas process aesthetic focus on effect, action and production.

The determinative power of dematerialisation in relation to artwork has highlighted anti-institutional aspects for conceptual artwork. The role of technology for system aesthetic offers new format and materials for artists. On the political, cultural and economic grounds change the stances from implicit conceptual art with use of mass-media.

Digital networks immateriality is not limited to object or priori ground but it involves a continuous flow of streams, rhythms and energies in the network. Artists’ exploration of different forms of activism as affirmative and subversive to answer the power structure depicts the issue of immateriality in the networks.


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