Things that talk

DASTON Lorraine

Things that talk : object lessons from art and science

New York : Zone books, 2004, 1 vol. (447 p.)

ISBN 978-1-89095-144-3

MOND 490

Résumé :
Imagine a world without things. There would be nothing to describe, explain, remark on, interpret, or complain about. Without things, we would, in short, stop speaking ; we would become as mute as objects are alleged to be. In nine original essays, internationally renowned historians of art and of science seek to understand how objects become charged with significance without losing their gritty materiality. Things that talk aims to escape the opposition between positivist facts and cultural reading s that bifurcates the current historiography of both art and science.
Confronting this impasse from an interdisciplinary perspective, each author singles out one object for close attention : a Bosch drawing, the freestanding column, a Prussian island, soap bubbles, ealry photographs, glass flowers, Rorschach blots, newspaper clippings, paintings by Jackson Pollock. Each object is revealed to be a node around which meanings accrete thickly. But not just any meanings : what these things are made of and how they are made shape what they can mean. Neither the pure texts of semiotics nor the brute objects of positivism, these things are satured with cultural significance. Things become talkative when they fuse matter and meaning ; they lapse into speechlessness when their matter and meanings no longer mesh.
Each of the nine evocative objects examined in this book had its historical moment, when the match of this thing to that thought seemed irresistible. At such junctures, certain things become objects of fascination, association, and enless consideration. Things that talk fleetingly realizes the dream of a perfect language, in which words and world merge.

Essays by Lorraine Daston, Peter Galison, Anke te Heesen, Caroline A. Jones, Joseph Leo Koerner, Antoine Picon, Simon Schaffer, Joel Snyder, and M. Norton and Elaine M. Wise.

Tables des matières :

Introduction Speechless, Lorraine Daston
Chapter I : Bosch’s equipment, Joseph Leo Koerner
Chapter II : The freestanding column in eighteenth-century religious architecture, Antoine Picon
Chapter III : Staging an Empire, M. Norton Wise and Elaine M. Wise
Chapter IV : A sience whose business is bursting : soap bubbles as commodities in classical physics, Simon Schaffer
Chapter V : Res Ipsa Loquitur, Joel Snyder
Chapter VI : The glass flowers, Lorraine Daston
Chapter VII : Image of self, Peter Galison
Chapter VIII : News, paper, scissors : clippings in the sciences and arts around 1920, Anke te Heesen
Chapter IX : Talking pictures : Clement Greenberg’s Pollock, Caroline A. Jones

Axe de recherches :

  • Axe transversal : Cultures visuelles

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