A Study into the Intermediary Utility of Faction in Art Criticism
This study is a follow-up to my thesis Art criticism by laymen in the “new online public sphere”: spontaneous criticism and writing as speaking which I have already made public. This thesis elicits and is research into the methodology of writing based on “faction” in an extension of “spontaneous criticism’ and “writing as speaking” presented as methodologies of writing by non-experts so as to improve the methodology of authoritative critical writing by critics. The “faction,” a concretization of “writing as speaking” has been considered the “taboo methodology of writing” from the perspective of conventional criticism’s view, evaluating value based on positive facts, as fact and fiction are ambiguously entangled.
However, I assert that “faction” in art history may actually operate as writing with positive, dynamic features, reviewing the history of faction initiated from literature exploring new journalism in the 1960s. That is, I propose that faction can be rhetoric with utility in the venue of criticism today. I call for viewing faction’s identity from the viewpoint of text theory escaping from Greimas's model of structuralist semantics, pointing out that history and criticism has resided in structuralist thinking, premising a dualistic distinction between “fact and fiction” and “truth and false”. This is why the text theory, extending to the world of “an infinite play of signifiers”, defined by Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes is a suitable concept for defining faction in my discussion. Recent assertions by historians ―that a historical fact is the “world of possibility” deriving from an author’s interpretation of language (in that history has always been the “record of winners”)― helps history and faction meet together without hesitation. Criticism also enables us to meet faction through post-structuralist thinking aroused by relativist or subjective interpretation. The status of “fact/fiction” identical with that of “criticism/faction” calls for us to understand an encounter of subjects in communication through a conversion from confrontational structure to interactive open structure.
I refer to an encounter of art criticism with faction as “art criticism/faction” and make “an imaginary concave mirror” taking it as a metaphor for concrete discussion. The concave mirror used for concentrating light resembles an intermediary role “art criticism/faction” assumes in communication. I try to see the relational operation of reader(RE)-art criticism(AC)-faction(FA) as the process of “virtuality”(virtualité) and “realization,” concepts Henri Bergson and Gilles Deleuze argued. It is to consider that an encounter is realized when faction(FA) is projected onto art criticism(AC, concave mirror) and faction(FA) turns to reality after going through the process of realization(A). It is to see faction as being with a critical attribute within it, and as an infinitely possible body effectively playing an intermediary role as criticism.
I have largely divided the intermediary utility deriving from “art criticism/faction” into several categories as follows, looking through the form and content of a case of “art criticism/faction”: “art criticism/faction” offering the reader the joy of reading writing as “re-written text”; “art criticism/faction” conveying critical messages to be understood with ease through creative writing and intriguing narrative; “art criticism/faction” as a conversational type of writing constantly interacting with readers in online space; “art criticism/faction” as pleasant meta-criticism criticizing expert writing in a way of allegory, sarcasm, satire, and parody; and “art criticism/faction” as writing with social utility testing and agitating intellectuals.
This paper presents a perspective into “art criticism/faction” that faction has long been in the depth of art criticism rather than a new way of writing imported from the outside of art criticism. This study clarifies its goal to rectify professional art critics’ attitude toward writing: concentration on conveying guidance messages and adherence to neutrality in aesthetic judgment capable of improvement. This thesis denotes that art criticism attempting faction-like writing can be criticism more familiar to readers who have refused to read the usual, arid art criticism by professional art critics.
I judge faction’s structural contradiction, irony, and imagination could contribute to recovering the health of professional art criticism failing in its intermediary role and attaining its social, intermediary utility. In this respect, this study will dedicate to secure the “diversity of critical theories,” suggesting a meaningful objective in practicing an effective intermediary role for readers professional art criticism has to seek.
world of possibility,
imaginary concave mirror,
professional art criticism