“DEFINITIONS HAVE NEVER DONE ANYTHING BUT CONSTRAIN”
A chair is called a chair because, from a young age, we have socially agreed that it is known as a chair and not a table or any other object. Language relies upon a common agreement in order for the message to be communicated. However, it is usually suggested in a negative form, something is something because it is not something else.
Giving something a definition does just that, it defines it. It factually states an idea and gives no room for misinterpretation. Language in this sense seems to have limitations. If something has a defined meaning how can it be understood in any other context or opinion. In reality this is not how language is used. The work of authors, whether that be text or image or both, is interpreted by the viewer in a unique way, influenced by society and personal attitude.
It is often the case with artistic work that the author produces the piece with no intention, leaving the work to be interpreted by the viewer. This leads on to discussing the theories of authorship. When does a work have an author, can they be removed and does the viewer play a role in the authorship of works?
Guggenheim described contemporary art as ‘singular forms sometimes repeated.’ It relies upon the viewer bringing their own meaning for the work to have value, consequently allowing the viewer to become an author.
The definition of author itself is somewhat vague. There are many answers to one question but most seem to include the idea of being a producer of an original work. Therefore, if a piece of work is left for the interpretation of the viewer, they author their own original thoughts rather than becoming the author of the work itself. An example of this would be 4:33 by John Cage, composed in 1952. This is a piece of music that relies solely upon the surrounding in which it is played. Cage is the author of the idea, but the listeners are the authors of what they hear, be it a cough or a sneeze or the hum of the lights in the room.
In my opinion an author can only exist in the presence of a reader. Art is about communicating an idea, whether it be political, emotive or anything else. Aiming to communicate without a recipient is surely unsuccessful.