DIY Culture Industry: Signifying Practices, Social Networks and Other Instrumentalizations of Everyday Art


Michael Warner writes (in Public Culture 14, no. 1) that “with email, bureacratic memos and love notes, the object of address is understood to be an identifiable person or office.” Art criticism is suppose to be different: though individually expressed and deeply felt, it is an aesthetic position addressed to a public sphere. “For this other class of writing contexts,” Warner continues, “including literary criticism, journalism, theory, advertising, fiction, drama, the available addressees are essentially imaginary, which is not to say unreal. The people, scholarship, posterity, the younger generation, the nation, the Left, the movement, the world, the vanguard, the enlightened few, public opinion, humanity, my fellow queers: these are all publics. They are in principle open-ended. Even declaiming to a group of intimates, [you] could still be heard as addressing a public. We’d then recognize ourselves as strangers even when we know each other.” But such a conception of the public sphere as aesthetic opinion’s object of address is today challenged by a number of forces, including increased transnational mobility and global capitalism. In his book The University in Ruins (relevant excerpts on file in the library), Bill Reading describes two alternatives to an earlier, more homogeneous nation-based public sphere: one is the scene of dissensus, the other is the global consumer marketplace. What’s the difference? And how would an art magazine, say, function differently when moved from one to the other?


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