I was seduced by two tiny books of theory: Baudrillard and Nouvel’s The Singular Objects of Architecture and Scarry’s On Beauty and Being Just. In the case of these texts, “tiny” refers not to the physical size of the books (though Scarry’s is certainly tiny in that sense as well), but to the length. Both texts are short, conversational works, as well as witty (Baudrillard and Nouval’s interviews with each other) and pretty (Scarry’s simple but elegant phrasing). Both make for fun and rapid reading, but are no less thought-provoking for those qualities.
Baudrillard and Nouval take up long-running conversations [i] about the way spaces take on political and cultural meaning, and how art objects circulate (or not) within these spaces. I find Nouval’s thoughts on the relationship between painting and architecture particularly fascinating (among other subjects, he contemplates why architecture cannot truly work within Dadaism, as well as the ways in which traditions of painting influence the creation of cityscapes).
Scarry discusses the ways in which objects come to be read as “beautiful” (and the ways in which they lose their qualities of beauty), and the affect beauty has on its beholder. (I’m not quite through Scarry’s text, so can’t write much more about it yet, except to note that I’m enjoying it).
All of which is giving me lots to think about in my paper on art objects in Lady Audley’s Secret.
21 December 2009 ~ Hamilton
[i] long running conversations. In 80 pages they cite, directly or indirectly, Marx, Deleuze and Guattari, Benjamin, Barthes, Jameson, and Virilio, as well as art theorists like Alberti.