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On the night of July 6th we had a small presentation and discussion about "authorlessness" and the pros and cons of creating authorless works in different fields.
A brief historical survey of authorless works was presented and then we examined the value of these works compared with works in which authorship was more important than the works.
Afterwards we had a stimulating discussion about how authorship can in some cases be a barrier to participation in projects in which all creators are concerned with asserting their contribution to the project and therefore the project suffers.
A project called "Authorless Factory" was proposed at the end of the meeting. Perhaps also it could be called "unAuthorship".
In his now seminal essay, “The
Death of the Author,” Roland
Barthes wrote, “To give a text an
Author is to impose a limit on
that text, to furnish it with a final
signified, to close the writing.”
● Human (spoken) language: 250,000 years
● Text: 5,000 years
● Text is the convergence of many spoken
threads: Texere means to “to weave”.
● All early texts derived from myriad oral
threads spanning thousands of years,
therefore authorship is a paradox.
● We still have the stories, not the authors:
– The Epic of Gilgamesh
– Hindu Sutras
Works with multiple authors:
• The Bible:
● Authorship becomes a factor as commons
are reduced to commodities.
● Studios historically produced artists
(artisans), now Artists produce studios;
● Capital liberates art from “patronage” now
Artists can sell “directly” to customers.
The Arnolfini Wedding Portrait
by Jan Van Eyck,
oil on panel, 1434
Illuminated Ottoman Manuscript
1488 – 1576
As art becomes an exchangeable
commodity, the artist becomes
more important than the work in
determining value, much like a bank
Picasso created over 6,000 paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Today, a
Picasso costs millions of pounds. Once, when the French Minister of
Culture was visiting Picasso, the artist accidentally spilled some paint on
the Minister's trousers. Picasso apologized and wanted to pay for them to
be cleaned, but the Minister said, 'Non! Please, Monsieur Picasso, just
sign my trousers!'
Can you think of any other artists whose
name became synonymous with value?
Rebelling against authorship
The pseudonym first appeared in Bologna, Italy, in mid-1994, when a number of
cultural activists began using it for staging a series of urban and media pranks
and to experiment with new forms of authorship and identity. From Bologna the
multiple-use name spread to other European cities, such as Rome and London,
as well as countries such as Germany, Spain, and Slovenia. Sporadic
appearances of Luther Blissett have been also noted in Canada, the United
States, and Brazil.
● Anonymity is traditionally associated with
● What are potential benefits from working in
an authorless atmosphere?
● What can be the downside?
● What role does anonymity play in
● How do you think a renunciation of
authorship could effect the unMonastery?
● Authorless factory?