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The perspective indicated by all conventionalist or procedural attempts to define a work of art seems to me to be incorrect (see extract_I), including the version advocated by A. Danto. While the influence of Wittgenstein on American philosophy in the XX century lead several authors to contend that "art" or "the artwork" are indefinable (see extract V), I believe that the attempt to better clarify the very nature of the artwork is an endeavour that is worth pursuing, and this for several reasons (Extract IV). It is implicit in A. Danto´s Institutional Theory of art that by defining oneself as “an artist” one causes her/his work to be regarded as an “artwork” and to be inscribed into the frame of meaning of the artworld. For Danto, a “work” becomes an artwork because it belongs to this frame of meaning and can thus be related to art theories (see extract_II). Danto's soft version of the Institutional Theory of art (as opposed to Dickie´s strong version) still has a huge influence on contemporary art theories (e.g. see Davies) and practices.





How to reduce such a risk and fulfil such a requirement? It seems to me that in order to better identify the core features of a work of art (instead of framing it into the context of the artworld) the most promising path is to try to harmonize the philosophical and the scientific approach. Therefore, a review of the theories and concepts already provided by the two research fields is an essential preliminary step. Trying to elaborate a definition of what-an-artwork-is by resorting to Philosophy of Art and Art Theories(1-11) is a real headache; moreover, having analysed different philosophical approaches (Bell, Dickie, Greenberg, Wolfe, Collingwood, see (7) Davies) and more recent approaches in cognitive science (Changeux, Damasio, Ramachadran, Semir Zeki, see 12-16), I find the arguments on both sides unsatisfactory. The inadequacy of the former approaches becomes evident when we try to verify whether they can successfully account for the “conceptual turn” in arts (D.Davies´s (7) critics and (11)).
In my hypothesis (see Extract III), an artwork has a first Level of meaning (see G. Harman Three Level of Meaning.1968.) insofar as it is an effective example of a patterns of communication not yet assimilated into a standard communication system (compared to the already existent examples). Such a work is able to meta-communicate, i.e. to communicate how humans can communicate something to each other. A good candidate to be a work of art should furnish new or improved ways. A work of art is both a statement about what is involved in the process of communication of conceptual contents and an example of how this communication can take place. The “proposition” offered by an artwork includes manifest and non-manifest relations and does not need the frame of meaning of the artworld to function or to be effective.
Indeed, I must place myself and my actions into a different context. This move cannot be merely simulated: it must really take place. It means that the role of the agent should be negotiated within an “x-world” other than the art-world. This simple move is the first requirement: the agent who creates the work is not an artist, irrespective of whether he/she has ever defined him/herself as an artist in the past or will do so in the future. According to my hypothesis, we now need to identify a (strong enough) x-world candidate (or community) within which the agent can operate coherently. The appropriate candidate (a community) must be selected within the range of institutionalized activities that deal with problems of meaning, communication, and knowledge. The scope of our quest is defined by an understanding of the artwork as something that interfaces human cognition efficiently and offers preferably new or better embedded patterns of communication. In this search for alternative candidates, the contexts of epistemology and semiotics (in the broader sense of the term advocated by U. Eco) seem to be the most promising (see extract TEXT IV).