Theory as Object

This is the first of 5 constellation lectures on how theory can be treated as a object.


  • To understand what theory is
  • To know how to identify theories, how to interrogate and use theories
  • To be able to work through theories and to combine them into a theoretical framework
  • To know how to make the practice of theory interact with your own practices

We started by examining what is theory. Theory can be-

  • I thought theory was an idea or concept that is not necessarily fact but is backed up by evidence of some kind and applied to certain practice or object
  • Oxford dictionary gives definition of the word itself not it in practice, its a bit of mismatch between origin of word and how we understand it as a definition.
  • Theory is usually seen as laws.

We then looked into Nicholas Davey – Art and Theory. He described how there us no opposition between practice and theory, but a relationship that is mediated by the subject matter of the work of art. There is always something else about given subject matter that can be said, apart from what stands out at first. Practice changes over time and thus the approach to a given subject matter also changes.

We went on to realised that someone making a theory is a witness to something. That speculation is not passive but is contributing to the emergence of the practice. Theory can bring up and unseen aspect of the artwork; The practice of the theory uncovers the possibilities that exists within the practice. We learned how theory liberates practice, allowing the artwork to renew, toward and infinite amount of possibilities within that practice.

After thinking about all of this we discussed how to do an inspection reading of a book, to understand the structure and purpose of the book. It has two parts, superficial and pre-reading-

You do a Pre-reading if-

  • You don’t know whether you want to read the book
  • You do not have time to read it
  • You cant find out what the book is about
  • To Understand whether the book is adequate for what you want

When reading critically you’ll be able to anticipate the content, the way the argument is laid out, and therefore comprehend the book

How to pre-read

  • Look at the title page and preference
  • To which bookshelf does this belong to, should this book be where is.
  • Study table of contents
  • Check the index
  • Read the blurb which is written by authors or experts to guide to the main contributors of the book.
  • Read the chapter that seem pivotal. skim read the book, turn the pages dip in and there read a paragraph or two looking for signs of main argument.
  • Read subheading beginnings and ending of paragraphs and or sections. read the first and last sentence of last of each paragraph sequentially.

I have to admit I didn’t find this lecture particularity interesting, it was my first choice of lectures so I am going to see if I can switch to my first choice which carries on from the lectures I was engaging with last year.


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