“The ‘Finished’ Work of Art is a Thing of the Past” presented by Sherman


Session Title:

  • Emerging Art Practices

Presentation Title:

  • The ‘Finished’ Work of Art is a Thing of the Past




  • The rich paradoxes of two conflicting economies (capital/debt and information) are contrasted for the profile they yield of art in the information age. Sherman provides a framework from which he projects the relative roles of the artist and audiences well into the twenty-first century, a time when it will be necessary to constantly update works of art. The current obsession with multimedia and interactivity encourages audiences to update the art works they behold.


    At the close of this century we are witnessing a major change in how value is determined. The value of material wealth is giving way to the value of information. In this time of transition, these apparently incongruous value systems mix and form hybrid systems for determining value. Unique, precious material objects still hold their value; some actually increase in value in a relatively short time. Information that is useful but scarce is also valuable. Scarcity, even in an era marked by an abundance of information, is still a key factor in determining value. Those who hold valuable information may still wish to maintain exclusive, proprietary control-to increase the life of the information. Information is subject to decay or aging. Information is not inexhaustible. It may revert to data, the raw material from which it is formed. How and when information is maintained and released is determined by those in control; those who initially recognize its value, manage it and operate with it accordingly.

    Contemporary art is part of an emerging sector of the economy called information and knowledge. Knowledge-workers create information for others to use. Worker in this case does
    not imply those who act only upon the instructions of others, knowledge-workers think for themselves. They know things that others do not know. They solve problems or help others solve problems. Knowledge- workers produce information, they transform data into information distinguishing key aspects of disorder through the discovery and/or imposition of form. Artists fit niceIy into this description of knowledge-worker. Contemporary artists, curators, critics and art historians are the knowledge-workers who form the contemporary art domain of the new sector of the economy called information and knowledge.

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