Framing the container / containing the frame

November 12, 2014

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In my last entry, my objects piled up, starting at the distinction between the object and the art object, only to declare that discussion unfitting for this subject, and instead turning to the (theoretical/philosophical/material/performative/perceived etc) frame as a transformatory tool in the gap between these categories. Although reading Zoe Sophias text Container Technologies made me wonder if my frames aren’t really containers.

Sophia uses a quote from the epistemologist Gregory Bateson to investigate the significance of containers. His theories on whether an infant or organism can be said to exist apart from it’s environment or context is transformed into a question on whether there is actually anything that can be said to exist apart from it’s surroundings. A subject is originally formed in relation to others, and in relation to it’s closest environment. That makes the subject inseparable from the context in which it operates.

Sophia addresses 3 main categories of containers; the utensil (the generic container), the apparatus (a specialized container that for example transforms it’s contents) and utilities (that enables a functioning or an environment for activities). These three categories could fit well with my different kinds of frames as well. The material frame is actually a quite generic container, not by way of holding an otherwise un-gathered matter, but by encapsulating and protecting, as well as holding the artwork in place on the wall. The theoretical and ideological framework operating in the art world would then be the apparatus surrounding the object, making it an art object. The utilities that has a big part in this framework include an array of museums, art schools and institutions and off course artists workshops and studios.

She talks of the container as defined both by it’s holding and storing of something, but also by re-distribution. In this aspect the different types of frames discussed above will work in different manners. Something that separates the frame from the generic container is the way in which it holds and distributes simultaneously. The way in which the frame presents (and transforms) the artwork will most certainly have an effect on how the object on display is perceived, making the act of holding and the distribution interdependent of each other. This simultaneity is an aspect of temporality left undiscussed by Heidegger, in the text quoted by Sophia, which gives emphasis to the containers ability to uphold flows, and preserve conditions, thereby arresting time related events.

The question for my further writing may therefore be in the line of whether there can be an artwork without a (material/ philosophical/ theoretical/ contextual) frame?  That will certainly prove to be an unanswerable question, but future inquiries will perhaps shed some light on the different roles the surrounding networks can play in this transformation or reclassification of object into artworks.

/Molly

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