[-empyre-] complicit post

Timothy Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Sun Jan 3 06:54:28 EST 2010

Welcome to the New Year, everyone.

>>I wonder if others in the -empyre- community share my curiosity as 
>>I enter into the new year finding posts coming across my screen 
>>that could be understood to be dismissive of intellectual history 
>>("the legacy of Adorno's aesthetics is problematic for us because 
>>it has become academic") and/or of the benefits that might be 
>>derived from philosophical or cultural thought, whether inside or 
>>outside of the academy ("I wonder whether anyone outside of 
>>Academia and the art world knows or cares about Adorno or Agamben 
>>for that matter").

I certainly agree with Johanna that part of our responsibility as 
artists and thinkers is to question and challenge notions of the 
world and art that have become formulaic.  But I wonder if you, 
Johanna, could clarify what you mean by "academic" in this context, 
especially since I value your academic study of alphabetic 
historiography and digital aesthetics, just as I appreciate the 
academic contexts that have brought us into productive conversation 
in the past.

Best wishes,


>>  gh comments below:
>On Jan 2, 2010, at 9:59 AM, Johanna Drucker wrote:
>  > But the legacy of Adorno's aesthetics is problematic for us because
>  > it has become academic, and because it is premised on a description 
>>  of the world and of art that have become formulaic.
>gh comments:
>I think I learned about Adorno from reading Artforum in the 1960's. He 
>was referred to by art writers in support of the conceptual art of the
>time. I wonder whether anyone outside of Academia and the art world
>knows or cares about Adorno or Agamben for that matter. It occurs to 
>me how bizarre a marriage the art world is taking academic theory and 
>philosophy and melding it with the aesthetics of marketing and desire. 
>In New York we often look to Europe for the theoretical underpinnings 
>of art. It's an odd idea but it gives some veracity or credence to art 
>works. The other verification is of course the market. If art sells 
>than it must be good enough for someone to buy it.   As I've often 
>quoted Rimbaud here it is again sort of paraphrased," all an artists 
>needs is a poet and a patron. "  Of course poets were the first art 
>theorists entrusted with the task of explaining an art work. The 
>patron obviously gives monetary  support to the artist.  In the 21st 
>century art world there is an art industry that includes Academia, 
>galleries,museums, alternative space, artists collectives, art fairs, 
>arts festivals etc.. all of these function as patronage to a greater 
>or lesser degree.  The word complicit has a negative connotation as if 
>being involved in these mechanisms has a taint to it. That's a strange 
>notion.  I've aways thought an artists is part of a culture and times 
>even as they stand apart from it and try to present their own work.
>G.H. Hovagimyan
>empyre forum
>empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au

Timothy Murray
Director, Society for the Humanities
Curator, The Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Cornell Library
Professor of Comparative Literature and English
A. D. White House
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York 14853

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