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Enchanted objects: agency in the magic act and contemporary art practice

By Jonathan Gilhooly


The following is taken directly from the abstract: 'In my research project I examine some of the ways in which the objects,strategies, and concepts of conjuring—or what Simon During has called ‘secular’magic—might be seen to converge with those of contemporary art practice.\ud The theoretical concepts that I employ derive principally from Alfred Gell’s (anthropological) theory of art and agency. In Gell’s theory, an index/artwork is a mediatory (or secondary) agent, but an agent nonetheless, through which the (primary) agency of a social other can be communicated. Gell’s concept of enchantment, but also his interpretation of the status of the artwork as provisional\ud and problematic, rather than aesthetically or semiotically determined, is deployed as a means of creating a productively meaningful relationship between art and magic, both of which can be said to occlude the ‘abduction’ of agency in distinctive ways. Finally, Gell’s concept of agency provides a robust yet fluid set of paradigms for exploring the mobile, tripartite relationship between artist,artwork, and spectator.

Topics: N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Year: 2010
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Provided by: UCA Research Online
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