On Ian Wilson’s Art Objects

Ian Wilson’s conversation-based art practice reminded Ben of the introduction to Asif Agha’s 2006 book, Language and Social Relations. An excerpt:

…It is therefore all the more important to see that utterances and discourses are themselves material objects made through human activity — made, in a physical sense, out of vibrating columns of air, ink on paper, pixels in electronic media — which exercise real effects upon our senses, minds, and modes of social organization, and to learn to understand and analyze these effects. It is true that that utterances and discourses are artifacts of a more or less evanescent kind (speech more than writing). But these are questions of duration, not materiality, and certainly not of degree or kind of cultural consequence….

Definitely worth reading the whole piece at Ben’s site, and noting the 60s art context in which Wilson was operating, where artists were actively seeking to supplant the commodified physical object of art with its unbuyable, unsellable concept. In interviews I’ve seen [quoted in Anne Rorimer’s 1995 MoCA catalogue, Reconsidering the Art Object], Wilson talked about his Oral Communication series as art as “speech itself,” and “art spoken,” a construct which evolved from his earliest pieces, Time [begun in 1968], which seemed to be about the process of conversation itself.
But that was also 40 years ago. A lot of non-material art has been made, bought, and sold since then, and I wonder how Wilson’s contemporary continuation or revisiting of these Oral Communication works differs from the originals. And how it differs from any sort of conversational situation which involves one party paying another for the…the what? the time? the privilege? the experience? Is it like a shrink? Or could the payment come from outside the conversation, and in advance? UBS is proud to present Ian Wilson in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist?
Speech Objects [emvergeoning.com]