While artworks are decisive symbolic agents in the making of culture, to see them just as expressions of established culture would be a reductive approach that overlooks the complex relations within different modes of cultural experience. Artworks reflect their socio-historical context not in terms of a one-to-one representation, but in the way they embody determined experiences by actively interpreting social content in their own spatio-temporal modality. The unique spatio-temporal structure of each work of art is also its particular symbolic structure which goes beyond the systems of established significances to articulate experiences which are not yet reified in other modes of cultural production. Thus, the hermeneutics of artworks bear a significant difference compared to other cultural artefacts. While cultural understanding happens along orbits of possibly shared significances and in the familiarity of shared contexts of meaning, artworks need to be actively constructed and spatio-temporally apprehended in their first-person phenomenal experience to rise to such a hermeneutic level only where the embodied experience can make its claim on understanding. Artworks, because they only say what they say in the unique singular language they temporally construct in the first-person phenomenal experience, also continue to carry their significances beyond their original contexts and become not only key intentional nodes that map and register a broader human reality but also exemplar structures of meaning for future generations. In what follows, I intend to outline a way of understanding this specificity of artworks in relation to their hermeneutic constitution.
|Keywords:||Artwork, Hermeneutics, Experience, Phenomenology, Interpretation, Symbol, Meaning, Symbolic Meaning, Cultural Meaning|
Assistant Professor, School of Architecture and Community Design, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA
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