1st Edition

Contemporary Art, Systems and the Aesthetics of Dispersion

By Francis Halsall Copyright 2023
    108 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Using five case studies of contemporary art, this book uses ideas of systems and dispersion to understand identity and experience in late capitalism.


    This book considers five artists who exemplify contemporary art practice: Seth Price; Liam Gillick; Martin Creed; Hito Steyerl; and Theaster Gates. Given the diversity of materials used in art today, once-traditional artistic mediums and practices have become obsolete in describing what artists do today. Francis Halsall argues that, in the face of this obsolescence, the ideas of system and dispersion become very useful in understanding contemporary art. That is, practitioners now can be seen to be using whatever systems of distribution and display are available to them as their creative mediums. The two central arguments are first that any understanding of what art is will always be underwritten by a related view of what a human being is; and second that these both have a particular character in late capitalism or, as is named here, the Age of Dispersion.


    The book will be of interest to scholars and students working in art history, contemporary art, studio art, and theories of systems and networks.

    Introduction: Systems Everywhere! The Age of Dispersion  1. The Aesthetics of Dispersion  2. Seth Price and the Stuff of Systems  3. Liam Gillick and the Aesthetics of Disappointment  4. Martin Creed, the Anti-Readymade and the Dispersed Art Object  5. Theaster Gates and Systems of Improvisation and Entrepreneurship  6. Hito Steyerl: In Defence of the Poor Manifest Image  7. Envoi: The End of Art, Again


    Francis Halsall is Lecturer in the History and Theory of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National College of Art and Design, Ireland and Co-Director of Master Programs, Art in the Contemporary World.