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Reading | in | Between | The | Lines

In art the object is the work produced by art, as much containing elements of empirical reality as displacing, dissolving, and reconstructing them according to the work’s own law. Only through such transformation, and not through an ever falsifying photography, does art give empirical reality its due, the epiphany of its shrouded essence and the merited shudder in the face of it as in the face of a monstrosity. The primacy of the object is affirmed aesthetically only in the character of art as the unconscious writing of history, as anamnesis of the vanquished, of the repressed, and perhaps of what is possible. The primacy of the object, as the potential freedom from domination of what is, manifests itself in art as its freedom from objects. If art must grasp its content [Gehalt] in its other, this other is not to be imputed to it but falls to it solely in its own immanent nexus. Art negates the negativity in the primacy of the object, negates what is heteronmous and unreconciled in it, which art allows to emerge even through the semblance of the reconciliation of its works.

~Theodor Adorno, Sociologist, philosopher, and musicologist 

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Reading a wide array of texts has been an integral part of my writing practice. I’ve written numerous posts on this topic so I won’t bother getting into it since I have a sneaky suspicion you know what I would say (e.g., developing a voice, dedication, staying motivated, yada yada yada la la la, etc.). So, I’ll try to dissect the text above…

By Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos (b. 1978) is a Filipina American writer, artist, and educator whose academic and research interests include feminist media histories, critical medical anthropology, race and technology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She is a Ph.D. student in Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz as a Eugene V. Cota-Robles fellow. Her work as been exhibited at Ars Electronica, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the GLBT Historical Society.

Her writing appears in art21, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, Ars Technica, Vice Motherboard, and SF MOMA’s Open Space. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture. She is a co-founder of REFRESH, a politically-engaged art and curatorial collective and serves as the program manager for the Processing Foundation.

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