As modern art devolved away from craftsmanship, which was considered by academics and art critics as unnecessary to true art; the range of view became diminished. If not for the diminutive subjects available to "the artists" conceptualism would be "folk art" easily done by anyone without training and/or experience in a craft, and... very difficult to define and control. The knowledge of the limits of what could be defined as "art" allowed intellectuals who based their art upon language to maintain a semblance of an elitist avant guard who make "art" or who design and commission "art".
"Two elements of the work remain constant: a copy of a dictionary definition of the word "chair" and a diagram with instructions for installation. Both bear Kosuth's signature. Under the instructions, the installer is to choose a chair, place it before a wall, and take a photograph of the chair. This photo is to be enlarged to the size of the actual chair and placed on the wall to the left of the chair. Finally, a blow-up of the copy of the dictionary definition is to be hung to the right of the chair, its upper edge aligned with that of the photograph."
The choice of chair and the photograph of the chair are the choice and the work of the gallery staff. This sort of installation was and is considered to be good art because the curator has a hand in the production of it. It has a fun element, a collaboration between artist and gallery art worker. The shipping and storage of the material is minimal, almost nonexistent. It is disposable. As an added bonus; gallery visitors are left puzzling, either irritated or left cowed in self doubt... questioning themselves and the gallery administration... widening the schist between high and low culture and educational/class distinctions... Weakening the cohesion of the culture and polarizing our societies in a preparation for? an imaginary revolution? conducted by paper tigers?
But, if you want a Joseph Kosuth in your home you could easily copy the instructions... how kool is that?
While working as a "hypertext poet" doing "visual poetry" I came up against a problem I called "linguistic chauvinism". My concept that animation is the syntax of iconography hit the wall of literature and I was left on the outside with the dogs. Man, I hit that wall hard. Didn't know it was there... insert dog wimpering sound.
Icons can be "read" and "written" by anyone of any language of any level of education.
What is required is computer and visual literacy and some talent. A bit of dedication will help.
I went to Google Translate and translated "chair". Languages which cannot be written in the Latin alphabet HTML cut and paste translate into "???":
...stoel, karrige, ???? , ????, kafedra, aulki, ??????, ??????, stolica, ????, cadira, mpando, ??, židle, stol, chair, sego, tool, upuan, tuoli, chaise, materia, ???????????, Stuhl, ?a????a, ????? , chèz, kujera, ???? , ??????, lub rooj zaum, szék, stóll, oche, kursi, cathaoir, sedia, ??, dhingklik, ??????, ???????, ??????, ??, ?????, sella, kresls, kede, ????, seza, kerusi, ????, president, heamana, ??????, ?????, ??????????, ??????, ?????. krzeslo, cadeira, ?????, scaun, ????, ???????, setulo, ???????, stolicky, kursi, silla, korsi, mwenyekiti, ???????, ????????????, ??????, ???????, sandalye, ???????, ????, stul, gh?, gadeirydd, alaga, ????, isitulo...
What is the value of a communication technology in a global culture that is not global? Conflict is the obvious result. To what end and to whom is conflict and isolation of any value?
"This is not a pipe."
This is a painting that has, in turn, irritated and then enlightened me. No, it is not a pipe, it is a painting of a pipe. It is believed in intellectual circles that common people confuse images with realities and said:
"This is a pipe."
or of a photograph of their father,
"This is my father."
Often the educated post-secondary, post-graduate, doctorial elite lost in a haze of linguistics, art-speak, and self-aggrandizement are more simple mindedly stuck on "proper" language than truth. The masses of publicly educated people are awestruck, baffled, deceived, duped, irritated, infuriated, maddened. No sane person of almost any level of intelligence mistakes a photograph of their father for their father. What is the meaning of this educationally enforced ignorance? Is it the constant grading of "papers" year after year? The false superiority of educationalists, experts, and professionals?
Northern European and American intellectuals of the, and the enormously wealthy industrialist families visited Italy during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries (after power had shifted to the Protestant nations, Gertrude).
While on their "grand tours" the Fashion-ably Elegant visiting Renaissance Art saw people kneeing before images of God praying; an act they were conditioned to mistake as the worship of idols.
Idolatry. A very great sin... less than of the making?
The simple fact is the simple worshippers did not believe that this sculpture to the left was God (or a photograph of a sculpture of God)... like, God is omnipresent... the sculpture, a symbol, is in a church... all the time.
It is obvious that the universities established, in large part, by Protestant churches would harbour a disdain for imagery. Even Professor Marshall McLuhan was suspicious of visuals.
The word, God, is not God nor is pipe a pipe, Rose.