Nam June Pain, Untitled. 1993 layer piano, 15 televisions, two cameras, two laser disc players, one electric light and light bulb, and wires, Overall approximately 8 ′ 4 ′′ × 8 ′ 9 ′′ × 48 ′′ (254×266.7×121.9 cm), including laser disc player and lamp @ MoMA 

Nam June Pain, Untitled. 1993 layer piano, 15 televisions, two cameras, two laser disc players, one electric light and light bulb, and wires, Overall approximately 8 ′ 4 ′′ × 8 ′ 9 ′′ × 48 ′′ (254×266.7×121.9 cm), including laser disc player and lamp @ MoMA 

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he aim of this article is to theorize how materials can play an active, constitutive, and causally effective role in the production and sustenance of cultural forms and meanings. It does so through an empirical exploration of the Museum of Modern Art of New York (MoMA). The article describes the museum as an “objecti- fication machine” that endeavo...

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... as the Father of video-art, Nam June Paik (1932 2006) is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential figures of contemporary art since the 1960s. 11 Initially trained as a classical pianist in Korea, Paik rose to artistic stardom in the early 1960s when he began experimenting with video and television as legitimate artistic media. One of the leitmotifs of Paik ’ s oeuvre was his attempt to displace the television from its position as one the most banal and ubiquitous objects of consumption into a unique aesthetic object on its own right. Always in the provocative and playful spirit of Fluxus , a movement to which he remained closely associated throughout his career, Paik experimented with different modes of appropriating and re-contextualizing television: from large-scale installations composed of dozens of television sets, like in his 1996 Electronic Super- Highway , to minimal sculptures based on single monitors that he altered internally to display abstract forms and patterns on the screen, like Zen for Tv (1963). Untitled , produced in 1993, is an example of this exploration. Conceived as a homage to John Cage, 12 this work consists of an automatic player piano surrounded by 15 cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors of varying sizes; a flood-light illuminating the unmanned keyboard; two laser discs placed on both sides of the piano; as well as numerous cables connecting all these elements. As the player piano plays, two live-feed cameras placed at the sides display the unmanned keyboard on some of the screens, while others display a cascade of fast-changing images showing Paik ’ s hands and feet playing a piano and clips of performances of the late John Cage (see Fig. 5). During my fieldwork at MoMA, I had to opportunity to work on a conservation proposal for Untitled . What follows is a detailed account of the challenges that this proposal encountered, which reveal Untitled as an exemplary unruly ...

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... In recent decades, the sociology of culture has shifted from treating meaning as a mere outcome of social relations to exploring how meaning is also key to influencing these relations (Alexander 2008;DeNora 2000;Kaufmann 2004). Sociologists have examined how the material qualities of cultural objects shapes their interpretation (Domínguez 2014;McDonnell 2017), how individuals engage in meaning-making in the production and reception of artworks (Eyerman and McCormick 2006;Griswold 1987a), and how social scientists can measure meaning (Lee and Martin 2015;Mohr et al. 2020). ...
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In cultural fields, where audiences view meaning as indeterminant, how do experts communicate their interpretations of multivocal artworks? Drawing on an archival dataset of contemporary art reviews, I examine how critics discuss ambiguous and complex meanings. Critics do not convey multiple, discrete meanings but instead focus on the relationships among multiple meanings. In particular, they use spatial metaphors to map these relationships. They describe the imagined physical features of spatial metaphors, such as shape, density, and movement, to portray concepts as discrete or intermingling, synchronously or asynchronously activated, having equal or unequal importance, or having a fixed or fluid relationship to one another. Critics’ portrayals of these different infrastructures through which meanings are linked shape their overarching interpretations of works. By articulating different kinds of multivocality via spatial metaphors, critics guide audiences to attend to certain meanings and their relationships, without foreclosing multivocality and ambiguity in meaning.
... Employing these data sources, I ethnographically followed the substance of concrete-qualities of the matter that people try to make material or erase. I took the substance' s 'transformative states' (Gregson et al. 2010) as its focus: its degradation, its cleaning, its being painted over, and its being drilled through (Abourahme 2015;Archambault 2018;McFarlane 2011;Rubio 2014)-along with social transformations of the housing estate in question. ...
The article examines the devaluation of concrete in Central and Eastern Europe and local residents’ and architectural professionals’ commitment to ‘modernize’ socialist-period concrete housing estates due to the perceived ‘poor’ quality of materials and their ‘unaesthetic’ appeal. Using the case of the estate Wrocław Manhattan built in 1972–1978 in the Polish city of Wrocław and renovated in 2015–2016, I argue that, although modernist estates in the region and in western European contexts share seemingly identical aesthetic stigma and devaluation, different forces drive their regeneration. Drawing on archival research, interviews, go-alongs, and photo-elicitations with architectural professionals and inhabitants, this article demonstrates that ‘modernization’ of socialist-period housing estates in Central and Eastern Europe is motivated not by classist stigmatization of their inhabitants, but by a social imaginary that socialism ‘deviated’ from western European modernity and it therefore requires aesthetic ‘improvement’ and ‘fixing’. To address this insight, the article uses a sociology of valuation lens to follow people’s practices of valuing, devaluing, and transforming various properties of the estate’s concrete so as to ‘modernize’ it. I propose the concept of fugitive modern that connotes people’s quest to update the built environments associated with an ‘unfinished’ socialist modernity and calls attention to the catch-up labor poured into adding value to built environments commonly perceived as devoid of quality and beauty.
... Materials are important at a heuristic level in terms of how we learn things, influencing the processes of durability, classification and display, as well as the cultural forms and meanings associated with things. It is in this sense that Domínguez Rubio (2014) distinguishes between docile and unruly objects, with the former generating stability and the latter acting as vectors of change. In their public talk, Varvara & Mar did indeed discuss the 'thingness' of artworks and the way in which they retain material potentialities and require specific measures of maintenance. ...
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Ethnographic Experiments with Artists, Designers and Boundary Objects is a lively investigation into anthropological practice. Richly illustrated, it invites the reader to reflect on the skills of collaboration and experimentation in fieldwork and in gallery curation, thereby expanding our modes of knowledge production. At the heart of this study are the possibilities for transdisciplinary collaborations, the opportunity to use exhibitions as research devices, and the role of experimentation in the exhibition process. Francisco Martínez increases our understanding of the relationship between contemporary art, design and anthropology, imagining creative ways to engage with the contemporary world and developing research infrastructures across disciplines. He opens up a vast field of methodological explorations, providing a language to reconsider ethnography and objecthood while producing knowledge with people of different backgrounds.
... In the context of these previous studies, we are able to explore how different objects of curation come to matter differently, asking how specific features of animals as objects become important for curators empirically. In this, we build on efforts to extend the new materialism inspired by science and technology studies in the direction of a project of comparative ontology (Guggenheim 2009, 2016, Domínguez Rubio 2014. ...
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This paper examines how zoos decide which animals to keep, drawing on guidance produced by zoo membership organisations and in-depth interviews with zoo curators. Zoos make curatorial decisions within constraints posed by each zoo’s legacy of buildings and animals. Different versions of ‘conservation value’ inform decision-making alongside other criteria such as education value, visitor value and whether or not animals are available. We find that an international agenda to rationalise zoo collection planning in the name of environmental conservation has only partially reshaped existing practices. As a ‘bald object’ in the Latourian sense, ‘conservation’ presents a clean surface, which also means that it invites projections that attach to concrete practices only in loose ways. Given the ambiguity of conservation as a value, conservation presents zoos with a range of options and can be made to fit a broad range of choices, which make sense to actors for other reasons. Reform efforts gain traction where they are inserted as ‘hairy objects’ and resonate with practical problems zoos are already facing. Reforms in the name of conservation have led to networks of exchange and co-operation, which help zoos to secure new animals in the context of new regulations.
... Taylor et al. (2019) offer one promising attempt, identifying contexts in which neural binding leads to innovative meaning-making versus stabilizing meaning-maintenance. Moreover, they show how the mind binds the perception or memory of objects to the objects' membership categoriessomething that helps explain the cognitive workings of concepts such as family resemblance (also see Domínguez Rubio 2014). ...
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Paul DiMaggio's (1997) Annual Review of Sociology article urged integration of the cognitive and the cultural, triggering a cognitive turn in cultural sociology. Since then, a burgeoning literature in cultural sociology has incorporated ideas from the cognitive sciences—cognitive anthropology, cognitive psychology, linguistics, neuroscience and philosophy—significantly reshaping sociologists’ approach to culture, both theoretically and methodologically. This article reviews work published since DiMaggio's agenda-setting piece—research that builds on cross-disciplinary links between cultural sociology and the cognitive sciences. These works present new ideas on the acquisition, storage, and retrieval of culture, on how forms of personal culture interact, on how culture becomes shared, and on how social interaction and cultural environments inform cognitive processes. Within our discussion, we point to research questions that remain unsettled. We then conclude with issues for future research in culture and cognition that can enrich sociological analysis about action more generally.
... In the process of mediation, industrial nature as a spontaneous and "lively" thing acquires a scientific and administrative presence and consequence. However, by virtue of their unruliness, heritage objects which are distributed, complex and consist of many separate components may act as vectors of transformation in conservation practice ( Domínguez Rubio 2014, 2016. It is in this sense important to recall the assumption that motivated and opened this chapter, namely that non-human entities and materials exercise a distinct gravity and agency, which feeds back into practice. ...
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... Taylor et al. (2019) offer one promising attempt, identifying contexts in which neural binding leads to innovative meaning-making versus stabilizing meaning-maintenance. Moreover, they show how the mind binds the perception or memory of objects to the objects' membership categoriessomething that helps explain the cognitive workings of concepts such as family resemblance (also see Domínguez Rubio 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
Paul DiMaggio's (1997) Annual Review of Sociology article urged integration of the cognitive and the cultural, triggering a cognitive turn in cultural sociology. Since then, a burgeoning literature in cultural sociology has incorporated ideas from the cognitive sciences-cognitive anthropology, cognitive psychology, linguistics, neuroscience and philosophy-significantly reshaping sociologists' approach to culture, both theoretically and methodologi-cally. This article reviews work published since DiMaggio's agenda-setting piece-research that builds on cross-disciplinary links between cultural sociology and the cognitive sciences. These works present new ideas on the acquisition , storage, and retrieval of culture, on how forms of personal culture interact, on how culture becomes shared, and on how social interaction and cultural environments inform cognitive processes. Within our discussion, we point to research questions that remain unsettled. We then conclude with issues for future research in culture and cognition that can enrich sociological analysis about action more generally.
... The conversations that have taken place in museums around what collections are, and how digital objects may be collected (e.g. Altshuler 2013 ;Rubio 2014;Boyle and Hagmann 2017 ;Were 2014 ), demonstrate the ways in which museums contribute to very particular philosophies and theories of the object world. Rubio (2016 ) describes how museum practices of curation and conservation produce objects out of things by stabilizing the material world into very specifi c institutional assemblages. ...
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... This understanding of culture is macro-cultural, and it underlies critical notions of ideology and discourse. It is an understanding of culture that has long been challenged by microsociologists and against which I see many colleagues in the sociology of culture actively working (Becker 1984;Benzecry and Krause 2010;Calhoun and Sennett 2007;Dominguez Rubio 2014;Jerolmack and Khan 2014;Lizardo et al. 2016;Mangione and McDonnell 2013;Vaisey 2009;Zerubavel 1993). It should at least be contextualized within accounts of other factors shaping knowledge. ...
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This article offers a critique of the self-observation of the social sciences practiced in the philosophy of the social sciences and the critique of epistemological orientations. This kind of reflection involves the curious construction of wholes under labels, which are the result of a process of “distillation” or “abstraction” of a “position” somewhat removed from actual research practices and from the concrete claims and findings that researchers produce, share, and debate. In this context, I call for more sociological forms of reflexivity, informed by empirical research on practices in the natural sciences and by sociomaterial approaches in science and technology studies and cultural sociology. I illustrate the use of sociological self-observation for improving sociological research with two examples: I discuss patterns in how comparisons are used in relation to how comparisons could be used, and I discuss how cases are selected in relation to how they could be selected.
... Pour Durkheim, rappelle Domínguez Rubio (2014), les objets ne sont pas des opérateurs décisifs de la sociogenèse, car ils ne possèdent pas d'élan vital. Durkheim reconnaît que le milieu social est hétérogène, composé à la fois de sujets et d'objets, et que l'évolution du social dépend aussi de la présence des objets. ...