Authorship Without Author
Concern with the
original "authors" voice and uniqueness of the work
of art, generated by chaotic variety of contemporary art, is another
attempt to reconsider the very concept of authorship.
Is work of art (text) a product of the author, or is artist created
by his work of art? Does artist open new vistas of imagination to society
or is his art just a reflection of societys expectations?
According to P. Bourdieu, it is possible that no authentic work of art
exists. It is likely that our imagination is dominated by the symbolical
authors significance that is assigned to him by society. The fetish
signature of the artist matters more than artistic work. It is also
possible, based on J. Baudrillard, that "operational cultural prostitution
machines" intentionally produce myriads of names to lure and attract
the flow of mobile masses.
It seems that the only possible discussion today is on ever changing
strategies and concepts of authorship. Amateurism, kitsch, anonymity
that find place in these concepts are potential signs of the future
Discussion on separate individuals seems to be useless given contemporary
cultural theory context. P. Bourdieu proposes to approach social reality
not as activity of separate individuals, but as complex manifestation
of their mutual relationships and distances between them. It is not
a free will, but the totality of these relationships that generates
cultural values, symbols and signs of authorship. What matters in this
context, is not the author, but how his name assigns an exclusive status
for a particular discourse in society and culture.
Commonplace objects like traffic lights or similar might as well acquire
a new significance, if manipulated by celebrated artists, who provide
this object with the authorship function. Yet the author of such nature,
claims M. Foucault, is not the source of meanings in that work of art.
He is just a functional principle within a certain culture, used for
selecting, separating and sorting out cultural activity. This principle
does not encourage, but hinders free circulation of cultural signs and
meanings. "Author" is not a source of originality, but an
Based on the concept of "exterior pressure", the inner world
of the artist or art critic reflects the existing highly structured
"artistic world" and its relationships. In the form of official
authorization of symbolical artists powers, educational institutions
offer a reward for this subjugation of individual. It is doubtlessly
the way real author appears. Rather this is the "effect of the
author", which is a result of wide social and ideological games.
The question remains whether any free will or individual psyche
has any room in these games?
It would be equally productive to look for contemporary authorship function
and its manifestations in the global world, media, cultural policy,
the Internet, press and the maze of everyday rituals.
Contemporary digital technologies offer a concept of author and his
work that opposes radically traditional understanding of artistic creation.
In digital reality author may be as much as mediator, a product of art
is not the proof of authorship, but a place of temporary encounters.
The cyberspace artist does not care to contribute anything new and ingenious
to enormous flow of information via electronic networks, but is interested
in manipulating different streams or bringing them into confrontation.
Virtual reality obliterates differences between organisms and machines,
real and unreal, generating signs of post-organic area. This post-human
realm is the key subject of computer art, yet it is the art that does
not produce any unique identities, but mediates between different social
The artists, who implant computer robots and microprocessors into their
bodies, obliterate the boundaries between human body and his creation.
The result is a boundless, constantly changing and interacting unity
of computer chips, digital codes, organism, implants, virus dynamics
and data banks.
Very similar tactics is characteristic of video art. The rituals of
multiplication and recording of uninterrupted visual world encourage
the viewer to take an active position, while the author withdraws aside.
Video films that dominated "Documenta 11" encouraged the audience
to give their attention to the real world, liberated from authors
It turns out that this is a destruction of a socially constructed, therefore
limited concept of the author, "the function of the author",
but not the author as a person. Therefore it seems pointless to mourn
the disappearance of heroic personalities and more meaningful to consider
what cultural ideological mechanisms create the aura of such personalities
and how the category of "authorship" functions in contemporary
society and art.