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Abstract

This article is both philosophical and practical in its intent. It endeavours to bring into focus an idea with an Ancient Greek lineage, poiesis, and determine whether it may revitalise our thinking about the 'making' of art. The art-making considered in this paper will concentrate exclusively on Western art and its historical and contemporary manifestations. I suggest that poiesis - that which "pro-duces or leads (a thing) into being'" - may enable practitioners in the varying art forms, and aestheticians who reflect upon them, to come to a deeper sense of how artworks work: that they realize themselves inter-dependently of the formative conditions of their inception. One question I raise, among others, is: What is the relation between poiesis and the sensory embodiments of art making? Here I evoke the notion of the poietic act, something which has the potential to reinvigorate the artist's creative energies in and for our times. At a philosophical level I argue that poiesismay be seen as a liberating force which seeks to engage the multiple conditions of contemporary aesthetic reflection, and at a practical level I argue that the poietic act may be seen in those undercurrents of artistic activity that impel us toward a space of 'unitary multiplicity,' wherein the artist, the artwork, and the receiver of such a work are brought forward in all the features of their self-presentation.

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