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Objects
have a fundamental sentimental value; we use them not only for their
functionality but keep them for the relationship we have with them in our everyday
lives. The use of found objects within art can be problematic, as the value they
hold can change the way we interact with an art piece that contains these
objects. The juxtaposition of, often clinical, gallery spaces with familiar,
everyday objects influences our interaction with them and how we perceive a
piece. Object-oriented ontology,
originating from Martin Heidegger, postulates that metaphysically human
existence should not be privileged above nonhuman objects. This homogenising of
man and thing could affect the way the use of found object is perceived in an
artwork. The phrase ‘found object’ comes from the the French ‘objet trouvé’ meaning non-art
functioning objects that are placed in an artistic context. In its early usage objet trouvé was understood to be a an
object used in the assemblage of an art piece, focusing more on the material
and aesthetic qualities of the object rather than its contextual connotations.
Marcel Duchamp evolved this practice but using readymades, composed of objects
that were their own autonomous works of art, famously his 1917 Fountain comprised of a porcelain urinal.
The appropriation of a found object not only has wider repurcussions in the
field of art, as it poses the question: is art about the artist’s mind or the
artist’s skill? But it also confuses the line between the intention of the
artist and the contextual knowledge the of the viewer.

 

Our
relationships with objects is simultaneously very functional and pragmatic, yet
sentimental and mundane. This dynamic can both be seen as a useful way to communicate
ideas about familiarity, or a hinderence when the artist’s intention is to
remove a found object from its everyday context. In his main work ‘Sein und Zeit (Being and Time)’, Martin
Heidegger attempted to further his goal of dismantling traditional
philosophical theories and perspectives. He was concerned with ‘Seinsfrage’, or ‘the question of being.’
He postulated seinsfrage as: “if
being is predicated in manifold meanings, then what is its fundamental meaning?
What does being mean? If, in other words, there are many kinds of being, or
many senses in which existence may be predicated of a thing, what is the
most-fundamental kind of being, the kind that may be predicated of all things?”
Wolin and Naess (2017). In order to
address that question properly, Heidegger investigated the human individual,
which he called ‘Dasein.’ The inherent
characteristic of Dasein is a
condition of already ‘being in the world’ – of already being caught up in and
involved with individuals and things. The notion of Dasein

 

The
attempt to place and understand everyday life in an artistic sense is often
easily articulated through found objects; these traces of mundanity visually
explain our everyday routine and existence through object functionality.
However, a dichotomy occurs when the artist’s aesthetic or mental intention for
a piece is somehow interfered with by the common association the viewer has to
an object. In his book ‘Phenomenology of Perception’, Maurice Merleau-Ponty
proposes that, from a phenomonoligical standpoint “the theory of sensation,
which composes all knowledge out of determinate qualities, constructs objects for
us that are cleansed of all equivocation, that are pure, absolute, and that are
the ideal of knowledge rather than its actual themes” Phenomenology of Perception (2012, p. 34). 

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