Bitmapped Form*

All analyses of art might be analyses of relationality, where form distends in time, in encounter, at some distance from an author, but never severed from it—might be, if it weren’t for the fact that questions of relationality often get cleaved in two along disciplinary lines: there are those who pay attention to form, and those who pay attention to reception (with those who focus on process not usually sparking across that gap). Form seems to name something in the work, thus intrinsic, sequestered, unsullied (see Brinkema, The Forms of the Affects, 2014, for the most extreme articulation of this claim). Reception seems to name something that comes after, more social, more muddled, therefore necessarily less formal. Formalism seems, in this sense, to name the practice of eschewing reception, where reception is often reduced to something flat and empirical like experience (see Joan W. Scott, “The Evidence of Experience,” Critical Inquiry v.17, n.4, 1991). We need, now and probably always, a concept that connects those realms of discourse, that sees them, not just polemically but historically, as having never been untethered. Continue reading