Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: Installation Art: Here Today, Gone to Market?
Once seen as an avant-garde thumb in the eye of the commodified objet d’art, installation art is now a standard fare in museum and biennial exhibitions. This course will consider historical precedents and early pioneers of installation art before moving into a series of case studies of works from 1950 to the present. We will pay particular attention to the constellated and contingent relationships between artist, material, artwork, architecture, viewer, institution, and geopolitical location. How do our experience and understanding of these often ephemeral works of art function and change across time and place and discipline? Through photographic and textual documentation? What currency do they maintain in successive iterations? In the art market? We will think about these questions as well as how installation art differs—and doesn’t—from other kinds of immersive entertainment to reflect on the shifting forms, frameworks, thresholds, and functions of art throughout time.
Our inquiry will begin with lots of looking—both at reproductions and first-hand at works installed in local museums. Daily in-class writing and discussion of the assigned readings—as well as about the processes of critical reading, writing, and thinking themselves—will smooth the way for a multi-staged, peer-reviewed research paper of ten pages.