The Hole

If we look at weeping – and say that this is the highest form of signification one can locate within an experience with an artwork, (for example, people mention ad nauseum being brought to tears when faced with the beauty of a Mark Rothko painting) culture’s supposed highest form of visual production: what does it mean when this sensation is found more commonly within culture’s lowest forms of visual production? Does the biological act of being brought to tears by a combination of external stimuli loose it’s value? Do the deceivingly calculated psychological exploits perfected by the advertising and Hollywood film industries explain this sensation? Does this prompt us to re evaluate how we understand our experiences?

How do we as viewers locate meaning in our experiences with aesthetic production be it an artwork or an advertisement? How is it that we can tell them apart?

This might seem like a relatively basic question, but if I were to say that the experience of looking at Richard Prince’s re-photographed Marlboro ads made me weep, then what would the difference be when encountering this subject when seen as a magazine spread? Would there be some kind of meaning inherent in that experience if the ad brought me to tears as well as the Prince artwork?

Surely people don’t cry when looking at this body of work, but there is something to be said about the nature of how we experience our world in light of the ubiquity of appropriation, not just in visual culture but in music, advertising, and in all aspects of aesthetic production. What now are the mechanisms employed by art that let you know that it’s art and not something else? And how do we qualify these experiences?