By James W. Manns
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Extra resources for Aesthetics
But let us suppose further that one of the brothers has an influential unclea belligerent agent who owns the ears of a few dance company impresarios. Could this prove to be the factor that legitimizes their claim? If chairfalling was subsequently, through the efforts of the uncle, to find its way into the repertory of a few minor dance companies and one major one, would it now deserve to be regarded, unconditionally, as a full-fledged performance art? Is the only condition that is preventing us from recognizing their stunt as an artistic performance the fact that a larger artworld public does not recognize it to be one?
We should understand that it is not rudeness but desperation that leads the Parisian from whom we have just asked directions to gesture vaguely with his hand and tell us "par là," shaking his head and muttering to himself as he proceeds on his way. He might have just come from where we want to go, but it would be easier to retrace his steps than to capture them in words. Having drawn such a parallel between linguistic ambiguity and urban sprawl, Wittgenstein then reaches for another image to capture what he takes to be an apt approach to conceptual analysis: the family reunion.
Yet another, seeking perhaps to improve on Jackson Pollack's "dribble" technique, swung on a rope above a canvas, defecating on the canvas and capturing his "efforts" on videotape (here it is obscure whether the work of art consisted in the performance, the end product, or the video record of the two). In these latter cases little more seems to be involved than a will to do something differentradically different. And yet all of these works/performances/stunts were both presented and reported as artistic endeavors; in fact, the one by Cage has by now taken its place among the classics.