The art of the absolute: relations, objects, and immanence

Noys, B. (2014) The art of the absolute: relations, objects, and immanence. Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 19 (1). pp. 171-185. ISSN 0969-725X

[thumbnail of 11 Angelaki 19.1 Noys.doc] Text
11 Angelaki 19.1 Noys.doc - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (121kB)


The contemporary theorization of art can be traced in a series of interlocking and antagonistic positions: the dissolution of art into social relations, the tracking of art as the work of objects that recede from our grasp, and the practice of art as instantiating or linking to an immanent plane. I take the question of immanence as central to these debates. This is because immanence implies a superior plane that exceeds specification or determination, and it also traces the problem of capitalism as our horizon of immanence that threatens to absorb any such excess, whether that is artistic, political or ontological. Tracking the problem of immanence, I explore how it rests on the tension of a relation to immanence. Using the work of Gilles Deleuze I analyse this relation as existing in the tension between a moment of excess, often theological, and an immanent relation or fold. Returning to Deleuze's use of the early Sartre we find that Sartre offers a subtly different thinking of relations and immanence through exploring how we are cast out amongst relations and objects. I then use two of Sartre's later essays on art to examine his development of a “situated absolute”: the artwork as the site which condenses and gathers the contradictions of relations and objects into itself, precisely refusing immanence. This, I argue, offers the key to unsettling the coordinates of contemporary art theory by reinstating a thinking of the absolute as positional and at once immersed and antagonistic.

Publication Type: Articles
Uncontrolled Keywords: art, immanence, Gilles Deleuze, Jean\-Paul Sartre, absolute
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR > N61 Theory. Philosophy. Aesthetics of the arts
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Arts and Humanities > English and Creative Writing
Depositing User: Benjamin Noys
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2014 12:13
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2020 12:36

Actions (login required)

View Item
View Item
▲ Top

Our address

I’m looking for