Art-matrix theory and cognitive distance: Farago, Preziosi, and Gell on art and enchantment

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Recent theories of art that subscribe to the view that art objects are agents enchanting their target audience, have tended to explain the operation of art objects as an agent–patient dynamic, a causal nexus of agency. They face a challenge, however, when they also aspire to embrace the idea – dominant in modernist and contemporary art theory – that the function of art is to unsettle its spectators’ habitual ways of perceiving and understanding, that is, to disenchant them: If artworks are to be understood as agents enchanting their recipients, how can they be forces of disenchantment at the same time? I argue that the shift in perspective from perceiving art objects as enchanting agents to approaching them as possible means of gaining cognitive distance is inadequately addressed by these theories.
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Archival date: 2015-12-04
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