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Clever fetishists

Frigg, Roman ORCID: 0000-0003-0812-0907 (2013) Clever fetishists. Art History, 36 (3). pp. 665-669. ISSN 1467-8365

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1467-8365.12024


Anthropologist Arjun Appadurai has coined the phrase ‘methodological fetishism’ to denote tactics of thinking with objects.[1] Fetishisms tend to attract a following, and methodological fetishism is no exception. Mexican textiles, unbreakable glasses, folding screens, Victorian tapestries, telescopic micrometers and stilettos strung together to form a wheel – the contributions to this volume are testimony to art history’s amour with objects. But object-centredness isn’t confined to art history. Ever since Galileo astonished his contemporaries by dropping balls off the leaning tower of Pisa to establish his law of free fall and Newton contemplated an imaginary system consisting of two gravitationally interacting, spinning spheres in otherwise empty space in order to calculate the motion of planets, scientists have become honorary members in the club of methodological fetishists. This response explores the lands of object-based thinking in the sciences, whose provinces are more closely intertwined with those of art theory than is obvious at first sight – a point underscored in Hunter’s discussion of Hooke’s paper micrometer as an ‘artistic object of paradigmatic science’. This air of familiarity will, I hope, make my excursion into foreign territory comfortable even for those without natural predilections for border-crossing.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 Association of Art Historians
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Centre for Analysis of Time Series
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2013 14:45
Last Modified: 28 May 2024 17:30

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