Visual art and social structure: the social semiotics of relational art

Riley, Howard (2013) Visual art and social structure: the social semiotics of relational art. Visual Communication, 12 (2). pp. 207-216. ISSN 1470-3572

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This article elaborates the dialectical relationship between visual art forms and the social structures in which they are produced, by extending Robert Witkin’s taxonomy first presented in his 1995 book Art and Social Structure. Witkin tracked the history of visual art from pre-modern times, for which he invented the label invocational art, to the advent of Modernism, described in terms of evocational and then provocational art. The article then extrapolates from Witkin’s model to include post-Modernism, for which the author’s term revocational art has been coined, and goes on to discuss Nicolas Bourriaud’s concept of Altermodernism, his term for describing the relationship between contemporary art practices and the social conditions of today, for which the author suggests an alternative – convocational art – a synonym for Bourriaud’s term relational art. The article concludes with a demonstration that social semiotic theory can be a powerful tool for the analysis of relational art.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Divisions: Institutes and Academies > Wales Institute for Science & Art (WISA) > Academic Discipline: Art & Media
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Depositing User: Matt Briggs
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2016 09:15
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2023 11:01

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