Art as ‘phantasmagoria’: between illusion and reification

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss Stockhausen’s comment that the destruction of thetwin towers in New York in September 11, 2001 was “the greatest work of art that ever existed” –a comment that raises crucial questions about the relationship between art and politics, art and ethics,also on the very concept of “artwork”.Design/methodology/approach – Focus on art as a system of communication according to asociocybernetic approach.Findings – The paper argues that Stockhausen’s concept of artwork, which radicalizes the“organic metaphor”, culminates by 1950 in the ideal of a self-produced work of music (very similaravant la lettre to the concept of autopoiesis). Although produced by human labour, the artworkshould emerge and act as if it was self-produced. Such reification of art has its counterpartin the Western hegemonic paradigm of artistic communication, which also aims, by means ofillusionist devices, to conceal the production process that gives rise to the artwork. Both forms ofaestheticism could be described in terms of “phantasmagoria” (similarly to Marx’s commodityfetishism).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1367-1373
Number of pages7
Issue number9/10
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Art
  • Sociocybernetics
  • Philosophy
  • Music
  • Aesthetics
  • Autopoiesis


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