Book cover: Site and Non-Site

The cover: even if it looks as though it should be about agri­cul­ture, it is about art and phi­los­o­phy. Honest.

To para­phrase Mar­garet Thatcher’s hilar­i­ously delu­sional Freudian slip in which she revealed her monar­chi­cal self-image, “We are an author!”

Hav­ing sat on my PhD the­sis for nearly 6 years (some­times lit­er­ally), after an email enquiry from a pub­lisher, I fig­ured I may as well put it into print. I am con­se­quently delighted to announce that you can now pur­chase my the­sis from Ama­zon at the bar­gain price of £71. Put it on your Christ­mas lists now.

For those of you who haven’t read it yet (if you are one of these few: what have you been doing all these years?!), it is basi­cally about the rela­tion­ship between the phi­los­o­phy of Mar­tin Hei­deg­ger and what is referred to as “site-specific” art. How­ever, there is also quite a bit of stuff on the phi­los­o­phy of tech­nol­ogy, which is a sub­ject that has been my increas­ing pre­oc­cu­pa­tion since completion.

From the blurb:

The notion of site-specific art is one that has been used exten­sively within art the­ory and prac­tice since the late 1960s. How­ever, in the process of its var­i­ous util­i­sa­tions and inter­pre­ta­tions the con­cept would seem to have been emp­tied almost entirely of mean­ing such that, in the words of Miwon Kwon, it becomes merely a token of crit­i­cal­ity or pro­gres­siv­ity. Many works through­out his­tory have had a spe­cific rela­tion to a site. What, if any­thing, dis­tin­guishes mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary works that draw on the con­cept or to which it is ascribed? By revis­it­ing the philo­soph­i­cal basis of the prob­lem through an analy­sis of the work of Mar­tin Hei­deg­ger and Mau­rice Merleau-Ponty, Dr Christo­pher Town­son addresses the prob­lem of the mean­ing of site-specificity as a con­cept, then elab­o­rat­ing this through case stud­ies on James Tur­rell and Robert Smith­son. As a con­se­quence, sig­nif­i­cant con­clu­sions can be drawn not only with regard to site-specific art past and present but also for art his­tory as a discipline.

Who knows? Now that I have pub­lished one, maybe I shall get into the habit. It is ter­ri­bly nar­cis­sis­tic, but there is some­thing rather pleas­ing about see­ing your hard work in print. I am very much look­ing for­ward to receiv­ing my com­ple­men­tary copy. I am really hop­ing is it has a good “new book” smell.