Into contemporary art ~ an evolving lexicon

Below are some definitions that are the beginnings of an evolving lexicon bourne out of the Into contemporary art course tutored by Chris Lewis Jones. Please use the comment facility to add your lexicon addition.

Affinity n. 1 a spontaneous or natural liking or sympathy. A close relationship based on a common origin or structure. ME via L. affinitas from affinis ‘related’ (literally) bordering on. Affinity group n.  chiefly N. American, a group of people linked by a common interest or purpose (from Spanish Civil War Richards, Laval et al)

Art n. the expression or application of creative skill and imagination, especially through a visual medium…ME from L. ars- art

Discourse n. written or spoken communication or debate. A formal or spoken discussion L. ‘argument’ from discurrere ‘run away’

Contemporary adj. living, belonging to or occurring in the present.
C 17: L. con- together with + tempus- time

Dialogic adj.  Related to or in the form of a dialogue. Gk dialogos- converse with, from dialegestai (from ‘dia’- through ‘legein’- speak/debate). The term was popularised (within academic circles) by Bakhtin, who (in ‘The Dialogic Imagination’) recognised that, just as the past informs the present, so the present informs the past…nothing is free-standing or neutral, everything is part of an evolving discourse, which is informed by what came before it and informs what will follow it

Flaneur n. The term was popularised by French Symbolist Charles Baudillaire, for whom the flaneur was one who engaged with the city by strolling through it’. Fr. ‘saunter, lounge’ (later taken up by the Situationists)

Practice n. 1 the actual application or use of a plan or method, as opposed to the theories relating to it. 3 the practicing of a profession
Gk prakticos  ‘concerned with action’

Semiotics pl.n. the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation. Gk. Semeitikos ‘of signs’ (crucial to an understanding of structuralism and post structuralism)

5 thoughts on “Into contemporary art ~ an evolving lexicon

    • good idea Alan, can’t talk about post modernity or semiotics without mentioning Baudrillard!
      Gr8 thinker, in many respects, though he was infuriatingly (childishly?) sententious (especially with regard to his ‘analysis’ of the Gulf War, for instance)! His excoriating condemnation of the art gallery (white cube or not) is quite a legacy. He would probably accuse Nottingham Contemporary of being a simulacrum (he’d be wrong)!

  1. Thought I’d break the ice. Came across this recently and it’s by Dutch furniture designer Jurgen Bey: ‘Everything has a value, provided it appears at the right place at the right time. It’s a matter of recognising that value, that quality, and then to transform it into something that can be used. If you come across something valuable and tuck it away in your metaphorical suitcase there’s sure to come a moment when you can make use of it.’ – this half illustrating my point on who appoints the magi of today, in terms of informed and uninformed; it has everything to do with context.

    • thanx for breaking the ice Gareth (after Alan loosened it a bit)!
      Good point..’everything has a value, provided it appears at the right place at the right time. ..’
      and that’s the knack, being sufficiently ‘on the ball’ to know when something is sufficiently in both the right place and the right time in order to justify announcing/celebrating it’s contribution to a particular (evolving) discourse.
      in the past (late 19th Century for example), critics, curators and mainstream artists were so frequently and so obviously so far behind the ball, they weren’t worth taking seriously. After the embarrassment of the C19 the C20 critics, especially after WW2 , were so eager to be ‘on the ball’ they were prepared to support almost anything as long as it was ‘new’. Almost as bad (the emperor’s new clothing syndrome)! I’d like to think we’re in a better place now, but time will tell! thanks for introducing me to Jurgen Bey!
      anyone interested in vituperative contemporary art blogs check out Rob Van Beek and/or Shaun Belcher’s (aka ‘Moogie’) blogs on Art Review and/or culturegen web sites, a bit poisonous perhaps, but very entertaining. They both love to have a dig at the likes of Nottingham Contemporaray, The Culture Show, Tate Modern, ‘received’ or ‘trendy’ opinion…

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