Art as Information Ecology

Artworks, Artworlds, and Complex Systems Aesthetics

Art as Information Ecology

Thought in the Act

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Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: 24 illustrations Published: August 2021

Art and Visual Culture > Art Criticism and Theory, Theory and Philosophy

In Art as Information Ecology, Jason A. Hoelscher offers not only an information theory of art, but an aesthetic theory of information. Applying close readings of the information theories of Claude Shannon and Gilbert Simondon to 1960s American art, Hoelscher proposes that art is information in its aesthetic or indeterminate mode—information oriented less toward answers and resolvability than toward questions, irresolvability, and sustained difference. These irresolvable differences, Hoelscher demonstrates, fuel the richness of aesthetic experience by which viewers glean new information and insight from an artwork with each encounter. In this way, art constitutes information that remains in formation, as a difference that makes a difference that keeps on differencing. Considering the artwork of Frank Stella, Robert Morris, Adrian Piper, the Drop City commune, Eva Hesse, and others, Hoelscher finds that art exists within an information ecology of complex feedback between artwork and artworld, driven by the unfolding of difference. By charting how information in its aesthetic mode can exist beyond today's strictly quantifiable and monetizable forms, Hoelscher reconceives our understanding of how artworks work and how information operates.


“Masterfully intertwining aesthetics, information theory, and entropy concepts, Jason A. Hoelscher offers an insightful account of the accelerated transformations of art practices in the 1960s. Art as Information Economy will open new pathways toward a better understanding of the complexities of periodizing contemporary art at a time when artworlds are in more intense communication with other systems. This ambitious book is bound to create ripple effects.” — Cristina Albu, author of Mirror Affect: Seeing Self, Observing Others in Contemporary Art


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jason A. Hoelscher is Associate Professor of Art and Gallery Director at Georgia Southern University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction. Art is Fuzzy Information  1
1. Art and Differential Objecthood  17
2. Aesthetic Entropy Machines  51
3. Butterfly Effects in Information Space  84
4. Information Efflorescence and the Aesthetic Singularity  119
5. Aesthetic Amplification and Adjacent Possibility  150
6. Complex Unities and Complex Boundaries  186
Conclusion. Information Entanglement and the Post-Evental Artworld  220
Notes  235
Bibliography  253
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1438-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1345-7