As in neoliberal market theory, where maximal information is said to make markets more efficient, what Joselit calls “Conceptual art of the press release” (in which the artwork is “translated” into text as a proposition about its meaning) makes even difficult art easy to consume. The once radical proposal of Conceptual art—that objects exist in a transactional relation with text (and prosaic photographic documents)—has now become business as usual. But this is not merely the result of the now-standard practice of training artists in MFA programs, where learning consists of verbally justifying one's artworks before a cohort of peers and artist-instructors, nor the demands of a global and increasingly virtual art market. It is also a condition of today's academic practice in which art history is little more than the weaving together of primary and secondary sources that “historicize” and “theorize” objects without attending to them specifically. The current challenge for artists and critics is not to forego engaging with information, but rather to resist the allure of its transparency in favor of tracking its plasticity—in other words, the shapes of social governance and aesthetic speculation that its myriad overlapping channels assume.

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