Understanding Art-Making as Documentation

Art Documentation 36 (2):191-203 (2017)
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Though typically arts information professionals are concerned with the documentation of artwork, this conceptual paper explores how art-making itself can be considered a form of documentation and finished artworks as documents in their own right. On this view, artwork references something outside itself as part of a broader system, and exposes how it references. The implications of this perspective are discussed, springing from a historical discussion of document epistemology, research on the information behavior of artists and the philosophy of Nelson Goodman. This discussion provides a framework for conceptualizing artistic information behavior along the entire information chain. Framing art-making in the terms of information science in this way may help arts information professionals assist artists, and it provides grounds for deeper co-understandings between artists and information scientists. Additionally, once information scientists consider art as a document, we can begin to see that even non-artistic documents perhaps never were as "objective" or "factual" as they seemed.

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Tim Gorichanaz
Drexel University


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