Sunday, November 24, 2013

What is an Author?

By Michelle Harris

The concept of writing a blog this week directed me to consider Foucault’s ’ What is an Author?’. The requirement of blogging directs the writer to produce. Production changes the operandi to a function. The function is but an objective frame. Foucault analyses this evolution of losing the subject in the process of creation as a type of death. He says, “Writing has become linked to sacrifice, even to the sacrifice of life. It is now a voluntary effacement which does not need to be represented in books, since it is brought about in the writer’s very existence.’ This critique of individual existence is founded on Foucault’s consensus with Nietzsche that God and man have a common death. This death is a metaphor in ‘What is an Author’ for the abolishment of individuality.
This manifestation of individuality in design has been seen in the super star architect. However, when considering the architectonic and internal analysis the role of the subjects experiencing the space outweighs the significance of the author. Foucault’s point on authorship is essentially what difference does it make who is speaking? Embracing this viewpoint in total, would lead to blatant plagiarism. In design, this objectivity manifests in Motel 6’s. In a blog it might be a copy/paste from a less circulated source. The objective is achieved and the sacrifice minimal in the writer’s existence. I must conclude that authorship is produced by evolution. Evolution from a previous perspective results in a unique perspective. For example, Quigley Hall Gallery has a magnificently tiled rendition of Picasso’s “Guernica,” which was done in 1938. Referring to Picasso, he is famous for the quote ‘The bad artists imitate, the great artists steal.’ The door of authorship swings back and forth with originality and the question of where has this been used before? Leaving me with the question of the evolution in authorship, ‘What is it to imitate and what is it to steal?’ Is it just a matter of time?
In this generation another type of authorship has arisen in art that is stolen. Banksy, is a European phenomenon who has transformed the concept of individuality through evolution. He is anonymous as a person and yet renowned for his graffiti and non-conformist viewpoints. I see his use of existing settings as stealing the context for his art. Banksy, I see as someone whose authorship is dead. He is a figure of a movement and absent as an individual. Ironically, Banksy creates works for museums. Creating in the mainstream to propagate the anarchist movement I would argue is to imitate other artists. What is now the question is, ‘Who is really speaking?’. Banksy or an idea of Banksy? Banksy, as an individual creates in a context that defies the medium that caused him to reach this fame.
As a graduate architecture student my ambition is to become a licensed architect. This thought of achieving a Master in Architecture, also comes with recognition that architects are generally jacks of all, master of none. My education thus far has been aimed at preparing me to imitate a practicing architect. In a recent conversation I had with local craftsmen, the hierarchy of design roles were discussed. The authorship of the architect was brought into question. I concluded that our relationship to craftsmen is one of a maestro. Architects direct a composition.  The intention from the get-go is one of an individual figure head. Yet the role of an architect is one of subjectivity to create places where there is room for the subjects. Ultimately, there should be space for all individuals in creation to function so that the mode of existence is not a means of production but experience.

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