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Liam Gillick, “A Guide to Video Conferencing Systems and the Role of the Building Worker in
Relat ion to the Contemporar y Art Exhibit ion (Backst age),” in Gillick, Five or Six (New York: Lukas and
Sternberg, 2000), p. 9. As Gillick notes, scenar io thinking is a tool to propose change, even while it is
“inherent ly linked to capit alism and the strategizing that goes with it .” This is because it compr ises
“one of t he key component s required in order to maint ain t he level of mobilit y and reinvent ion
required to provide the dynamic aura of so - called free-market economies” (Gillick, “Prevision: Should
the Future Help the Past?,” Five or Six, p. 27).
Gillick in Renovat ion Filter, p. 16. As Alex Farquhar son has noted, “ The operat ive phrase here is
‘might be possible.’ Whereas Rirkr it can reasonably expect his v isitor s to eat his Thai noodles, it is
unlikely that Liam’s audience will do his reassessing. Instead of real act ivit y, the viewer is offered a ﬁct ional role, an approach shared by Gonzalez-Foer ster and Parreno” (Alex Farquhar son, “Curator and
Art ist ,” Art Monthly 270 [October 2003], p. 14). 62 OCTOBER defense of relat ional aesthet ics.27 The theoret ical underpinnings of this desire to
act ivate the viewer are easy to reel off: Walter Benjamin’s “Author as Producer”
(1934), Roland Barthes’s “Death of the Author” and “birth of the reader” (1968)
and—most import ant for t his context—Umberto Eco’s The Open Work (1962).
Wr it ing on what he perceived to be the open and aleator y character of modernist
literature, music, and art , Eco summar izes his discussion of James Joyce, Luciano
Ber io, and Alexander Calder in terms t hat cannot help but evoke Bourr iaud’s
The poet ics of the “work in movement” (and part ly that of the “open”
work) set s in mot ion a new cycle of relat ions bet ween the art ist and his
audience, a new mechanics of aesthet ic percept ion, a different st atus
for the art ist ic product in contemporar y societ y. It opens a new page in
sociolog y and in pedagog y, as well as a new chapter in the histor y of
art . It poses new pract ical problems by organizing new communicat ive
situat ions. In short , it inst alls a new relat ionship bet ween the contemplat ion
and the ut ilizat ion of a work of art .28
Analogies with Tiravanija and Gillick are evident in Eco’s pr ivileging of use value
and t he development of “communicat ive situat ions.” However, it is Eco’s cont e n t i o n t h a t e v e r y w o r k o f a r t i s p o t e n t i a l l y “ o p e n ,” s i n c e i t m a y p r o d u c e a n
unlimited range of possible readings; it is simply the achievement of contempor a r y a r t , m u s i c , a n d l i t e r a t u r e t o h a v e f o r e g r o u n d e d t h i s f a c t . 29 B o u r r i a u d
misinterpret s these argument s by applying them to a speciﬁc t ype of work (those
that require literal interac...
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- Spring '09