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The Promise of Meaning


The Promise of Meaning develops the general conceptual and theoretical dimensions of my practice and its application to the accompanying thesis exhibition, Girls’ Last Tour. Broadly, the essay is an examination of consumption and the commodity as they appear under capitalism and the manner in which these concepts and their consequences affect our ability to generate meaning. The essay begins with an analysis of the processes and consequences of capitalism and commodification as described by Karl Marx and developed in subsequent secondary literature. Following this, the concept of allegory is developed within a framework indebted to Walter Benjamin and Susan Buck-Morss. It is demonstrated that allegory and the processes of commodification share a similar capacity in regard to the generation and dissolution of meaning. The consequences of this are developed in the subsequent section with respect to our individual capacity to create meaning under the conditions of capitalism. The role of choice and the concept of the ready-made are analyzed as a means of production or authorship given these conditions. The following section considers the role of digital media in relation to our ongoing concerns regarding the generation and dissolution of meaning. The concept of selection is developed as a strategy of generating meaning specific to our digital moment and the overabundance of information. The essay concludes by offering the concept of salvage as a strategy of creative production in our present world followed by a description and analysis of the installation, Girls’ Last Tour.

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