Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Anker: Autographic vs. Allographic

From: Suzanne Anker
Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2007 03:27:15 -0500 (EST)

To pick-up on Carl Djerassi’s descriptive introduction of himself as “scientist turned playwright” and in keeping with previous questions with regard to comparisons between linguistic and iconic modes of communication, I relay to you some of Nelson Goodman’sparenthetical descriptions of the structural differences inherent in variousart forms.

In “Languages of Art: An Approach to A Theory of Symbols,” published in1976, he differentiates between works of art as being autographic or non-autographic.To those works that are categorized as non autographic, he assigns the term allographic.In this differentiation, which in fact may or may not be extrapolated to include laboratory science, an autographic work is a fait a complait, executedby an artist with no further elaboration or revision. It’s solitary stance as an object in the world is its unique stature. For the allographic arts, suchas the musical and dramatic arts, there is a two-step externalization processat hand. The scripts, scores or notations continue over time as fixed elements but simultaneously have the capacity to incorporate manifold varieties offuture productions and interpretations. Hence in allographic works, alternative “readings” become part of the aesthetic output.

Carl Djerassi also points out that many “theatre scholars as well aspractitioners are inherently science-phobic.” I must agree with thisinterpretation, particularly as it relates to the visual arts. What bafflesme, however, is why scientific metaphors are marginalized in artworld parlancewhile often trite re-runs of “received ideas” are applauded. Even imageswhich embed questionable social narratives are applauded for their ironicstance. Why is banality ironic?

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