A Trauma of Signification
This chapter is a re-evaluation of the concept of indexicality as introduced by Charles Sanders Peirce and revived by Rosalind Krauss’s ground-breaking two-part article, “Notes on the Index”, of 1977. The photographic index came under sustained criticism during the 1970s and 80s as it seemed to fix the meaning and establish the truth of the image. More recently, as in the writing of Mary Ann Doane, the index has been rehabilitated as a type of sign caught up in contingency, chance, and accident. It is understood as a type of sign really affected by its object, but non-mimetic. An excursus on Leo Steinberg’s conception of the ‘flatbed’ picture plane as a model of creative receptivity is followed by a survey of artworks composed of the accumulation of dust. This includes discussions of works by Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Mary Kelly, and Gabriel Orozco.
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