Rosalind Krauss argues for a “different specificity” (Krauss, 2000: 56) in what she deems “the post-medium condition,” in her book A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the Age of the Post-Medium Condition.

Medium specificity : The Chicago School of Media Theory

Clement Greenbert : Abstract painting <–> W.J.T Mitchell 

Michael Fried : against Minimalism – Literalist

Marchall McLuhan : Medium is the message

Rosalind Krauss : Greenberg 변형 계승 : Different specificity

artistic meida are historically costructed categories of tools and practices. In order for a medium to have characteristic qualities it must be grounded in a tradition that has extabilished these as intrinsic properties.


Clement Greenberg

The insistence on medium-specificity arose in the era of modernism, and has become associated with the art critic Clement Greenberg. in This 1940 essay, “Towards a New Laocošn” and later in “Avant-Garde andKitsch.”

He defends and celebrates abstract painting as achieving the perfectexpression of medium-specificity and purity–purity being the ideal state of medium-specificity, the work as uncontaminated by the influence of other media. 추상이 최고의 pure한 형태이다. 최고의 medium specificity를 표현한다. 추상회화 극찬. 

the abstract painter became free to focus on the materiality of the medium. Thus,painting became an autonomous force that communicated nothing outside of its own self-contained properties. Through abandoning the imitation of nature, painting also escaped from emulating the conditions of sculpture; that is, abstract painting rejected the illusion of three-dimensional space. Surface / opacity / painted surface

Greenberg argues that painting found its way to medium-specificity through looking to music; not to imitate it, but to understand how it operated. Music, he contends, is inherently pure and abstract because it cannot be described in terms of any other media. –> 이제 이것은 무효하다고 생각한다. 디지털 이미지, 디지털 음악은 서로 호환이 가능하다. 결국 binary code이기 때문이다. 


W.J.T. Mitchell

W.J.T. Mitchell’s 1994 “Ut Pictura Theoria: Abstract Painting and Language,” argues against Greenberg’s conception of purity. According to Mitchell, representational and abstract painting both have a dependence on language, the former always involves narrative, and the latter has historically been dependent on theory. Thus, the Greenbergian idea that abstract art is free from a relationship with language is rejected. In Mitchell’s view, medium-specificity of this kind is impossible; words are always needed to explain thepicture.


Michael Fried

Michael Fried is another important figure in the discourse on medium-specificity. In his 1966 essay “Art and Objecthood,” he attacks minimalist art for producing effects that do not derive from within the work itself, but instead are dependent on the viewer’s relationship with the object. This, he insists, “is now the negation of art” (Fried, 1967:15). According to Fried, these minimalists took Greenberg’s plea for purity too far; instead of exploring the materiality of the media, all they do is present the materials for what they are. Fried argues that this leads to an emphasis on the viewer’s encounter with the object and its “objecthood,” rather than with the formal qualities within the object itself. This interaction is theatrical because it exists within space and time, while Fried contends that visual art should instead aspire to absorption, which he casts as the opposite of theatricality. The work should present itself whole at every instant, and not depend on the viewers’s relation to what is being seen.

michael fried는 against Minimalist art이다. 미니멀 아트. 미니멀 조각은 관객과 작업 사이의 공간을 인식하게 만든다. 이것을 상기시킴으로써 objecthood에 집중하게 한다. 예술은 object itself의 materiality를 탐구해야한다고 주장하기 때문에 이 objecthood는 고유의 물질성을 배반한다. 관객과 작품 사이에 존재하는 공간, 그 둘 사이의 관계는 필수적으로 시공간을 점유하기 때문에 여기에서 theatricality가 성립된다. 이 theatricality는 순수한 물질성에서 나오는 absorbtion에 반대된다. 


Marshall McLuhan

Perhaps the most significant figure to discuss medium-specificity is Marshall McLuhan. According to McLuhan, media should be defined as “extensions of man”. the medium is thus specific through its effects, not its content. The power of media to change the way individuals interact with one another and society is determined by the nature of the medium itself.

McLuhan hypothesized that understanding this property of medium-specificity would allow societies to control the effects of new technologies, harnessing potentially dangerous inventions by predicting their influence.


Raymond Williams

In his 1977 book Marxism and Literature, Raymond Williams proposed a reading of medium-specificity where media are defined by the social or cultural context they are practiced in.


Rosalind Krauss

Rosalind Krauss argues for a “different specificity” (Krauss, 2000: 56) in what she deems “the post-medium condition,” in her book A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the Age of the Post-Medium Condition그린버그 식의 purity는 더 이상 유효하지 않다. 

In her argument, the Greenbergian notion of medium-specificity has become irrelevant, and a new goal for purity must be assigned to the art world. This specificity, though, will not be located in materials or methods, but in the “essence of Art itself” (Krauss, 2000: 10). The successful art of this post-medium age will reflect on its own practice in relation to the past, and through such contemplation escape absorption into capitalist modes of production. Such reflection must involve an acknowledgement of the medium specific practices that are being replaced or combined, and an intent to use art as an exploration of the idea of art. In this way, medium-specificity is continued through its subversion into “different specificity.


Many current theorists feel the need to acknowledge their departure from the ideas of Greenberg and Fried. Although medium-specificity was an important step forward for photography, abstract painting, and modernism, it can be seen as restrictive and destructive of artistic freedom.

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