Artworks as semioses

We have explored an alternative understanding of artwork and of artifact based on Peirce’s process philosophy of sign. We assume it is an “alternative understanding” because a weak emphasis is given to the fact that we deal with a process philosophy when we examine Peirce’s semiotics.

artwork-process

We view artworks as semioses, regular patterns of sign activity. Semiosis is sign in action. According to this description, the spatiotemporal materiality of the artifact as a physical structure doesn’t correspond to the artifact as a sign but is merely one level of observation (token -level of observation). That is, the artifact as a sign is not reducible to its physical structure because its ontology is of a general process. The ontology of a process can only be described as a temporal trajectory, a regularity of action that develops dynamically.

From this perspective, when we observe an artwork, the event of observing a physical structure is an instantiation of a temporal/historical trajectory which is, ontologically, the artwork.

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Pedro Ata & João Queiroz

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