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The Experience of Meaning

The Experience of Meaning

Chapter:
(p.71) 3 The Experience of Meaning
Source:
The Beauty of a Social Problem
Author(s):
Walter Benn Michaels
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226210438.003.0003

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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