The Mechanism of Meaning

(3rd edition: Abbeville Press, 1988)

"Of course you are the mechanism of meaning."

- Arakawa and Madeline Gins (1971)

What generative circumstances, underlying tendencies and range of basic capabilities need always be in place for a person to function as a person, and, in so doing, to construe meaning? A certain automaticity underlies all thought and action. Arakawa and Madeline Gins choose to address directly the elements of what might be spoken of as a code of automaticity (Or should it be admitted that the automaticity that makes a person able to be a person appears to be organized around only a quasi code?). It has been said that Arakawa and Gins have begun the slow painstaking process of introducing the embodied mind to itself, making sure to do this with a minimal amount of distortion, This art-science project, which keeps all construals of the term meaning in view, including, in particular, intention and use, holds fast to a context theory of meaning. The many exercises and illustrations it presents are subsumed under subdivisions that either name or allude to behavioural tendencies that underlie thought and action, Meaning—what is being referred to—sallies forth in the context of, and, indeed, through the evoking of the underlying tendency being addressed. Viewer becimes participants in an analysis oftheir own wherewithal. Art, as art thinking, looks at itself and then looks at itself again. What a person has automatically at her command when she seeks to construe meaning. These elements, elemental behavioural features of human life, of personhood merely evidence, Attempting to put before each person the full range of her generative circumstances, underlying tendencies and range of basic capabilities Arakawa and Madeline Gins set out to present the embodied mind to itself. that is. to present a person with what she automatically has at her command when she seeks to make meaning of an event or a situation. to put before a person her full range of capabilities, yes this is a populist action. Rigorous philosophical thinking needs to be in the hands of, the embodied minds of, the populace. They do this through a series of exercises and illustrations organ. The Mechanism of Meaning can be thought of as a rescue act on many scores. It rescues art thinking from art pe rse. It rescues embodied mind from a dualistic netherland. Rescuing areas of inquiry it is in this spirit that the art-science research, comprising a series of 84 (5ft by 8ft multimedia panels), is carried out. The collection is divided into specialized areas of investigation, including "Neutralization of Subjectivity," "Reversibility, and "Feeling of Meaning." First reproduced for publication in 1971, The Mechanism of Meaning was shown in its entirety at the 1997 Guggenheim exhibition "Arakawa/Gins - Reversible Destiny", and was also featured in the accompanying catalog.

First Edition, 1971: Published by F. Bruckmann,Munich. Translated by Carlo Huber. Introduction by LawrenceAlloway.

Second edition, 1979: Published in English by Harry N. Abrams. Published in French by Maeght Editeur. Published in Japanese by Takagi Gallery.

Third Edition, 1988: Published by Abbeville Press.

Each 96 x 68 inch panel incorporates acrylic, pencil, and mixed media on canvas

Table of Contents

The Mechanism Of Meaning

(1973 - PRESENT)


















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