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Abstract

The concept of the “work” in art differs from and challenges traditional concepts of the “work” in bibliography. Whereas the traditional bibliographic concept of the work takes an ideational approach that incorporates mentalist epistemologies, container-content metaphors, and the conduit metaphor of information transfer and re-presentation, the concept of the work of art as is presented here begins with the site-specific and time-valued nature of the object as a product of human labor and as an event that is emergent through cultural forms and from social situations. The account of the work, here, is thus materialist and expressionist rather than ideational. This article takes the discussion of the work in the philosopher Martin Heidegger's philosophical-historical account and joins this with the concept of the work in the modern avant-garde, toward bringing into critique the traditional bibliographic conception of the work and toward illuminating a materialist perspective that may be useful in understanding cultural work-objects, as well as texts proper.