- Claire Bishop, “Viewers as Producers”
The article examines art and visual culture as artists have worked towards adapting to a more pluralistic audience and pushing the boundaries. Understanding art is no longer simply a matter of traditionalism but now the bizarre, uncouth, and political. This argumentation is supported by looking at Documents of Contemporary Art. Each edition of this publication focuses on a specific body of work and is introduced by a scholar. The Whitechapel Gallery, a common medium for display art and discussing creative ideas, is also examined by Bishop. An important point of departure throughout the piece is the social dimension of participation, which looks at the works pluralistically rather than at an individual level. The three major concerns for artists—activation, authorship, and community—which play a major role in artistic motivations are examined on a deeper level. Relational Aesthetics, a collection of theoretical essays, is examined on its individual parts. The first section provides the framework that readers should consider in their participation. The second is a collection of artist’s different writings. The final then presents a collection of different curatorial and critical positions. Bishop concludes by saying that many writing outside the discipline of history could be added, especially ones relating to the participation in subjects such as theatre and architecture.
Despite its short length, the reading was dense in its information, but ultimately was quite thought provoking. Art and its motivations are a fascinating topic, one I have found myself exploring in another one of my WRTC classes. So much of art can be characterized by its time just based on what it is depicting, yet pinpointing the artist’s precise motivations can still be quite difficult. Only a few works, usually the ones that go beyond the norm of the time and place, become the most memorable. Collections of Contemprary is an important archival work being done in this moment, and from what was said in the article, should be continued and expanded upon. Art and other visual rhetoric is important to the study of technical communication, and our understanding of history is deepened when artifacts such as this are analyzed and preserved.