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Graham Harman + Sylvia Lavin : Do all objects matter equally? (October 28, 2020)57:46

David Ruy introduces Sylvia Lavin and Graham Harman He proposes the question, “Do all objects matter equally?”, suggesting that this could be understood in terms of philosophical discourse, or current public debates about equity and inclusion, or in terms of architectural discourse.

At 4:03. Graham Harman explains that he and Lavin agreed that the prompt for their conversation would be his forthcoming book, Artful objects (Sternberg Press, March 2021). Harman presents some of the arguments of the book, defending formalism in aesthetics.

At 20:30. Sylvia Lavin responds to Harman’s arguments, stressing apparent contradictions in Harman’s claim that art objects can only be approached indirectly. She also turns the discussion around, asking the audience of architects “Just what is it that you want from philosophy?”

Lavin structures her subsequent conversation with Harman around a series of images including:
•Joseph Kosuth’s “One and three chairs” (1968)

•A diagram, a photograph, and an elevation drawing of Morphosis’s 2-4-6-8 House (1978)
•Lynda Benglis’s dildo ad (in Artforum magazine, November 1974)

•Peter Eisenman’s “Notes on conceptual architecture” (in Design Quarterly, 1970)

Their conversation ranges from the distinction between art and non-art, the category of aesthetic experience, the role of knowledge in aesthetic experience, the canon, value judgments, and aesthetic competency.

After showing a photograph of a statue being removed from a pedestal, Lavin asks, “Can arguments remove a work of art from its status as a work of art?”

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