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The Experience of Meaning

The Experience of Meaning

(p.71) 3 The Experience of Meaning
The Beauty of a Social Problem
Walter Benn Michaels
University of Chicago Press

The attraction of materiality--an intensified and literalized commitment to the idea that the work of art must not mean but be--has been a powerful one to both recent theorists and artists. This chapter focuses on Tom McCarthy’s novel Remainder and on photographs by Phil Chang and Arthur Ou as works that powerfully register that attraction, but that, more powerfully, seek to dramatize the conditions under which a work counts not only as being something but also as being about something. And it concludes by identifying this thematization of meaning as an effort to distinguish the work of art from the commodity it also is.

Keywords:   Phil Chang, Arthur Ou, Tom McCarthy, meaning, materiality

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