The art of the absolute: relations, objects, and immanence

Noys, Benjamin (2014) The art of the absolute: relations, objects, and immanence.

View this record at
Official URL: 10.1080/0969725X.2014.920636


The contemporary theorization of art can be traced in a series of interlocking and antagonistic positions: the dissolution of art into social relations, the tracking of art as the work of objects that recede from our grasp, and the practice of art as instantiating or linking to an immanent plane. I take the question of immanence as central to these debates. This is because immanence implies a superior plane that exceeds specification or determination, and it also traces the problem of capitalism as our horizon of immanence that threatens to absorb any such excess, whether that is artistic, political or ontological. Tracking the problem of immanence, I explore how it rests on the tension of a relation to immanence. Using the work of Gilles Deleuze I analyse this relation as existing in the tension between a moment of excess, often theological, and an immanent relation or fold. Returning to Deleuze's use of the early Sartre we find that Sartre offers a subtly different thinking of relations and immanence through exploring how we are cast out amongst relations and objects. I then use two of Sartre's later essays on art to examine his development of a “situated absolute”: the artwork as the site which condenses and gathers the contradictions of relations and objects into itself, precisely refusing immanence. This, I argue, offers the key to unsettling the coordinates of contemporary art theory by reinstating a thinking of the absolute as positional and at once immersed and antagonistic.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: B Philosophy (General), N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR, N61 Theory. Philosophy. Aesthetics of the arts
Members: University of Chichester
Depositing User: ULCC Admin
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2014 00:22
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2016 13:00

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item