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The Synthetic PropositionConceptualism and the Political Referent in Contemporary Art$
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Nizan Shaked

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781784992750

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784992750.001.0001

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A state of passionate detachment: Charles Gaines by way of conclusion

A state of passionate detachment: Charles Gaines by way of conclusion

(p.230) A state of passionate detachment: Charles Gaines by way of conclusion
The Synthetic Proposition

Nizan Shaked

Manchester University Press

The career of Charles Gaines has been dedicated to resisting or attempting to circumvent subjectivity. The political referent emerged in his work not as a means to represent himself or his political persuasion, but as a way to examine the relation of the poetic syntax of visual language to subject matter. A staunch conceptualist, Gaines has been creating artworks from rule-based processes since the early 1970s in order to question the operation of representation and modes of reference. By the 1990s he began analysing the specificity of tropes, focusing on the distinction between metaphor and metonymy, and eventually moving to work with particular political referents in a decisively non-descriptive, non-narrative, manner. In his early works Gaines set up a conceptual system from which the appearance of the work would be derived. Often employing chance operation or other aleatoric means to generate form, the work’s aesthetic was determined by systems, highlighting not only the distinction between the meaning of the terms random and arbitrary but also the distinction of the algorithmic from them both.

Keywords:   Contemporary art, Identity politics, Charles Gaines, Metonymy

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