Proposal on artcommentary or criticism
By Susan Sontag (1966)
The idea of interpretation can be traced back to the Greek conception of art as an imitation of reality(art was mimesis), which challenges art to justify itself.
Plato’s theory of ideas goes as far as to say that ordinary material things are themselves mimetic objects (an imitation of thetranscendent pure forms). Therefore, art was ‘an imitation of an imitation’. Art is neither useful nor true.
As its truth value was highly compromised, Aristotle seeks to justify its value through use andconcludes that art is therapeutic.
For both, Plato and Aristotle, art is figurative and have closed their eyes towards decorative or abstract art. This fallacy of art, says Sontag, is still prevalentin our days, even when art is taken as a subjective rather than objective expression. Sontag argues that under this conception art is need of defence, which in turn gives rise to the distinctionbetween ‘form’ and ‘content’ as two separate unrelated entities, where the latter clearly takes pre-eminence over the former, which is a hindrance and should be avoided at all costs.
Interpretation isto be understood in this context as ‘a conscious act of the mind which illustrates a certain code or ‘rules’ of interpretation. It is basically translation.
Because there is too much emphasis onthe content of a work of art, the need for ‘unwise’ interpretation arises. As a result, interpretation alters and transforms a work of art and seems to have first arisen out of need to bridge the gapbetween the meaning of a text and the demands of later readers (ancient texts revisited to meet modern demands) but this is not acknowledged by interpreters. This style of interpretation constructed...