The pleasure of the holder: media art, museum collections and paper money

Chris Dorsett

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When the artist Julian Rosefeldt exhibits video projections of cast Græco-Roman sculptures, exhibition-goers experience a crisis in resemblance and equivalence between a gallery installation and museum artefacts. On the face of it media magic seems to supersede, even eliminate, the experiential force of collection-holding. This article compares media and artefactual exhibiting practices by combining semiotic analysis, art theory and Georg Simmel's sociology of money. In the late 18th century, as European museums began to display plaster reproductions of classical sculpture and historic architectural details, economists worried that paper money would sever the representational force of monetary signifiers from the intrinsic value of the bullion they signify. Perhaps Rosefeldt defers promises like a banknote? Perhaps museums postpone the 'pleasure of the holder' like a bank reserve? In both cases, this article argues, the technologies of reproduction and repetition (old and new) tell us a great deal about the semantics of objects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-186
JournalInternational Journal of Arts and Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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