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Measuring the Art World: Quantified Comparisons and Evaluations in Contemporary Worlds of Fine Art.
(German title: Die Vermessung der Kunstwelt. Quantifizierung in Vergleichen und Bewertungen zeitgenössischer Kunstwelten)
The dissertation project analyzes methods and implications of quantified comparisons and evaluations in the worlds of fine arts. Relatively new applications of quantified measurement and evaluation –artist rankings, confidence surveys, and institutional evaluations – aim at shedding light on seemingly opaque structures and hierarchies of an art world. Surprisingly, some evaluations are not defined by market mechanisms but try to follow the art world’s very own autonomous patterns. Referring to sociologies of quantification and globalization, the project discusses communicative mechanisms and functions of commensuration and communicated comparisons. The research project debates assumptions concerning globalizing effects of commensuration and public comparisons, reactivity towards quantified data, stratification based on numbers, and a general theoretical approach towards blackboxing of complex structures for social ecologies.
The research project is motivated by a seeming contradiction between socially attributed objectivity of quantification on the one hand and originality, uniqueness, or subjective perception as typical modern criteria of the art world on the other. However, the study mainly refers to two sociological streams which commonly narrate success stories of modernity. Autonomous art as well as quantification or statistics stand for characteristics of western modernity and gradual globalization. Scrutinizing the quantification of the art world, these two research streams are discussed in a rather problematic field in the case of rankings and evaluations in the worlds of fine arts. Based on these interdisciplinary discourses and referring to traditional modes of comparing in the art worlds, non-economic rankings and institutional evaluations are studied with document analyzes, qualitative interviews with museum professionals, and media analyses.
Warburger Str. 100