Paper presented to "Rethinking the Social" conference,
Griffith University, July 1997 and subsequently in the proceedings of the conference.
Between the idea,
...since knowledge of reality is based upon the distinction between
real images and unreal images, and since this distinction does
not at the first moment exist, these intuitions would in truth
not be intuitions either of the real or unreal, not perceptions,
but pure intuitions. Where all is real nothing is real. (Croce
And the reality.
Between the motion,
and the act,
Falls the Shadow. (Eliot 1969, 85)
Excavating the social is the process of attempting to identify
the artefact on an interpretative plain, within shifting versions
of 'reality' and in relation to the social. This implies a usage
of the term, 'artefact', that could be seen to extend beyond the
conventionally received description as 'the product of human action'
(Richardson 1974, 4-5). However, what requires re-examination
are the acts considered to produce the artefact. What is of particular
interest for an excavation of the social are the acts of ascription
which 'make' an artefact. 'Artefact' is employed in preference
to 'object' to indicate a social constitution which is not necessarily
bound to the physical. The interpretative plain presents itself
as a conceptual terrain on which the qualities of artefacts inter-relate
to define the artefact. This inter-relationship provides a sense
of the artefact - an artefactuality. The interpretative plain,
also, disentangles the conflation of the physical qualities of
the artefact with the artefact itself as the product of a specific
cultural perspective and not an axiom of universal understanding.
The artefact has an intimate inter-relationship with the 'social'.
The indefinite, problematic and variously defined 'social' assumes
a 'reality' when it is constituted through artefacts (Soja 1989,
79). Conceptualisations of geographic position, economic worth,
kinship and social status, for example, can all be signified by
an artefact, which in turn binds a social relationship to relative
hierarchies of power and reality. Soja presents a similar claim
for spatiality: 'as simultaneously a social product and a shaping
force in social life' (Soja 1989,7). The
certainty of these artefactual realities, however, is tied to
the shifting framework of socially constructed meanings and interpretations
(Hides 1997, 11). This fluidity suggests that the artefact without
meaning is not an artefact at all.
Artefacts individually orbit within varying relationships of
intensity to the constantly dynamic cycles of social interpretation
and misinterpretation. Artefacts of minimal interpretation equally
include the rare and distant with the present and mundane. Such
a collection of artefacts includes, at its extremes, icons of
national identity with kitchen utensils. The taxonomy of artefacts
found in this interpretation is grounded in a relationship with
the social and its constructions and contestations of power. This
framework of interpretation shifts methodological emphasis from
those classificatory schemes orientated around utility or style
(Baudrillard 1996, 4).
The physical presence of an artefact, however, is not necessarily
a requisite for its interpretation (cf. Buchli 1997, 189). Disentangling
a physical presence from the interpretation of the artefact, particularly
in the presence of multiple artefactual, or otherwise, realities,
emphasises the importance of the 'sense' of the artefact over
any single quality of the artefact, including a material presence.
Artefactuality is the collection of various qualities that operate
in amalgam as a signifier, not towards some ultimate physical
revelation, but rather, to an arrangment of social relationships
(Miller 1991, 13). Hawkes' description of English cultural identity
is a useful, if somewhat poetic, comparison: 'It is like putting
many metals into a crucible and pouring out, not just a mixture,
but a new alloy with its own properties.' (Hawkes 1945, 24). Artefactuality
is the sense that the accumulation of artefactual qualities are
more than the sum of these parts. Physical qualities do become
the significant elements for interpreting the artefact in particular
forms of analysis. Most significantly, archaeology deals initially
with the physical qualities of the artefact in order to proceed
to an interpretation of the social and cultural conditions in
which that artefact had ascribed meanings (Tilley 1989, 191; Buchli
1997, 189). This systematic practice is described as a process
of scientific enquiry in recognition of archaeology's concern
for the materiality, and particular reality, of artefacts. Archaeology,
however, generally has little access to any other readily articulated
artefactual qualities beyond this physical persistence (Tilley
1989, 192). Understanding of the specific artefact is developed
from a series of inter-related assertions and comparisons built
out of knowledges surrounding the artefact's provenance and previous
interpretations of similar artefacts. In this sense, archaeology
is also an exercise in logic.
The experiences of the post-material are increasingly articulated
through the technological artefacts of computer systems as 'cyberspace'.
This is not a unique expression of the post-material although
it may, contemporarily, be the most common. Many social cosmologies
hint at post-material, and pre-material, environments (Chagnon
1983, 90-2). These environments preclude the archaeologist's trowel,
yet there is a sense that these environments possess artefactuality
through an accumulation of artefactual qualities other than that
of material presence. The artefactuality of these spaces is an
aggregation of, potentially conflicting, qualities and meanings
which are expressed and interpreted as identifiable artefacts.
These artefacts are products of human manufacture which have a
persistence beyond individual subjectivity and are not bound directly
or permanently to the subject's immediate experience (Richardson
1974, 4). These artefacts, also, hold 'fixed' qualities that allow,
at least, minimal interpretation through extended periods of time,
irrespective of spatial separation. Miller, through Munn, identifies
a similar spatialising effect with the canoes of the Kula:
What is being portrayed here is a concern with the creation of
an object in which social relations are implicated, but which
will ultimately be delivered up for the use of other people, by
being launched into the kula ring. This is an example of the problem
of alienation: certain conditions serve to separate the creators
from the object of their creative processes.(Miller 1991, 61-2)
It is worth considering the extreme positions in these discussions
of the artefact. For the realist, the artefact is 'there' telling
'us' about the cultural lifepaths of 'others' (Hides 1997, 13).
A postmodern position, in contrast, suggests that the artefact
tells 'us' about 'ourselves' as 'our' interpretation of the artefact
is an act of autobiography revealed by our imparting of particular
meanings on to its 'presence' (Baudrillard 1996, 105). The distinction
between the interpretations of the anthropologist from the generally
more casual observations of the non-anthropologist is, also, related
to these positions. To interpret cultural lifepaths from an artefact
requires a range of knowledges that cannot simply be inferred
from the examination of an artefact's physical elements. To achieve
this form of artefactual interpretation requires the privilege,
legitimacy and, probably, training of an anthropologist. In contrast,
interpreting the artefact as an act of autobiography, in relation
to one's own subjectivity, imitates more anticipated, everyday,
processes of interpretation and ascription towards the artefact.
The artefact is considered by various qualities, such as utility,
aesthetic appeal, the social status it imparts, its value or comparative
rarity in relation to the social experiences and motivations of
the subject (Buchli 1997, 190). This position reflects the relationship
of the artefact to a post-material world or, at least, a world
in which the 'material' orbits in apogee to the experiences of
the subject by emphasising the artefactual qualities which are
appropriate for the social provenance in which the artefact is
found (Miller 1991, 104).
The artefact is a social meaning-laden 'thing'. However, discussion
of the artefact, particularly in the archaeological context, inevitably
conflates the artefact itself with its physical qualities as an
apparently coherent and synonymous relationship (Miller 1991,
31). A physical 'thing' that is 'meaningful' is an artefact (cf.
Shanks & Hodder 1997, 17). However, discussions which commence
with artefactual meanings and qualities are not necessarily bound
to a particular, or any, material form. This consequently defers
debate regarding the existence or otherwise of an objective and
knowable 'reality' in preference to positioning the artefact on
an interpretative plain and in relation to the social.
This position towards artefacts commences from an anthropological
position. However, it is a position which is informed by the concerns
and criticisms that have been levelled in this era of 'posts'
in other spaces of the academy. Disciplines and research fields
such as gender studies, sociology, architecture, social informatics,
media studies and cultural studies 'fill out' the position in
which artefacts are considered. This wider range of concerns produces
a position which is sensitive to the concerns of ethnographic
'others' who have traditionally been exploited under the focus
of the anthropologist's gaze (e.g. Chagnon 1983, x;xiii) However,
the exploited who fulfil the role of ethnographic 'other' are
a varied and heterogeneous group who are not necessarily or singularly
delineated by cultural boundaries. In its place, it could be argued
that claims made in the name of ethnographic 'others' are claims
for a power relationship between the Anthropologist and non-Anthropologist.
Nonetheless, the non-Anthropologist has increasingly gained power
in determining the actions and activities of the Anthropologist.
This introduces understandings of artefacts that are not necessarily
accounted for in current methodological concerns. Adopting the
concerns of the non-Anthropologist, the subjects of the Anthropologist's
theory, makes the 'doing' of anthropology a more fraught, and
probably more complex, task. It does, however, reassert a concern
for the 'social'. This awareness for concerns of a problematised
'other', also strengthens the critical and theoretical foundations
of anthropology. A consequence of incorporating these concerns
has also been a preparedness, by some researchers at least, to
break from anthropology's traditional concerns to consider industrial
(and post-industrial) societies as equally legitimate venues for
Utilising this wider framework for Anthropological concern provides
the opportunity for contemplating the artefact in a post-material
world. Defining the post-material is as fraught a task as attempting
to position the artefact within the 'real' world. These are not,
however, uncoincidentally related complexities. The anthropological
treatment of the artefact, following the methods of archaeology,
has often pre-supposed an inherent or knowable reality in its
use and interpretation of artefacts (Gellner 1997, 48). In contrast,
the postmodern turn in anthropology questions the solidity or
certainty of reality by citing the necessarily mediatory, interpretative
and subjective role of the anthropologist (cf. Shanks & Hodder
1997, 5). This 'turn' however has generally not articulated any
'way forward' for the treatment of the artefacts in social environments
which sustain a plurality of meanings, interlocking webs of power
and, the widening distanciation of 'manufacture' from consequent
interpretation (Gottdiener 1995, 65) . These, and other concerns,
are parameters that require navigation to gain a sense of the
artefact in the post-material world.
Within the material world, the shifting meanings associated with
artefacts are an indication of the tenuous relationship that can
exist between the physical and other qualities of the artefact.
While meaning is generally perceived to shift around the anchorage
of an artefact's physical qualities, other qualities provide different
forms of anchorage (Miller 1991, 116). However, none of these
anchorage points are stable entities, they are all, as with the
artefact itself, a product of shifting social forces. Similarly,
these points rarely, if ever, completely anchor the meaning of
an artefact (cf. Miller 1991, 126-7). For example, the physical
form of tea cups shift, in part, around an anchorage of style.
The form of aircraft manufacture is anchored to changes in technology
(and the priorities of research and development that emphasis
particular social concerns for technological innovation) while
the changing form of domestic motor vehicles is tied to a range
of qualities including prestige, economic imperatives and style.
The tendency to anchor the artefact to physical qualities emphasises
its original manufacture as the point at which meaning was conceived
(Miller 1991, 3). However, some qualities of the artefact must
precede the physical in order to enable its manufacture. Tools
that aid manual labour are an indication of the need for these
'preceding' qualities. The very specific utility of woodworking
tools, such as planes, shapers and chisels, indicates that the
physical does not simply arise without an identification of future
provenance or utility of the physical qualities of the artefact.
In these tools, qualities, such as utility and the relationship
to the material that will be worked, are qualities of the tool
which are as significant as its manufactured physical form. Similarly,
after manufacture, the relationship of physical qualities to an
'intended' meaning can be a fleeting association and one that
does not necessarily persist through space or time. The further
the material object is separated from its original manufacture
the wider the range of artefactual meanings that are available.
Distance, acquire through time or space, increases the polysemous
qualities of the artefact (Shanks & Hodder 1997, 9). The ABC
antiques program, For Love, or Money, regularly features
a section in which the extent of this range is revealed when a
panel of experts are given an artefact and asked to append their
interpretation of other artefactual qualities to those that are
immediately apparent. The primary expectation, of the program's
host (and one assumes the intended audience), is for ascriptions
of utility and scarcity. Interestingly, some of the hardest and
most divergent guesses of these experts are examples of Victorian
high technology or kitchen accessories. This provides some indication
of the taxonomy of interpretation that positions the rare and
mundane at the extremes of a relationship with power and the social.
However, the process of locating the original manufacture of these
antiques veils their common qualities as artefacts of prestige
which is defined in their ascription as antiques. Shanks and Hodder's
observation regarding taxonomy-making should be treated as the
cautionary remark to this process of taxonomy-making, as:
Taxa are characterised by relative homogeneity. This is a legitimate
strategy for coping with the immense empirical variety and particularity
that archaeologists have to deal with. However, we should be clear
that classification does not give the general picture; it gives
the average (Shanks & Hodder 1997, 9).
The labour and social conditions of those who crushed grapes
for wine or cut the wood for furniture are far removed from the
separately and distantly ascribed qualities of prestige and implied
social status that the artefacts of vintage wine and antique furniture
are understood to possess. An example of the manner in which time
and distance extends the possibilities for the ascription of meaning
to an artefact can be found in the markets of Papua New Guinea.
Tourists returning from the Trobriand Islands would sometimes
clutch a flat wooden 'sword' with an ornately carved handle. The
'sword', however, is a meaning crafted by a culture which is not
the producer of the artefact. These 'swords' are the distorted
utensils of betel nut and lime use and, for Trobrianders, are
used to add the lime to the betel. The artefact's physical qualities
have progressively changed to increasingly reflect the meaning
it possesses within a 'Western' culture. The shift in form better
aligns the artefact to a meaning readily understood by the power-holders
in the tourist-souvenir exchange. These changes absolve the need
for the tourist to understand, or attempt to understand, the practices
of ethnographic 'others' by transforming the 'exotic' lime scraper
into a 'normal' weapon. The increasing power of the Tourist over
non-Tourist within their own Trobriand Islands is charted in the
mutating form of the lime scraper and the manner in which cultural
meanings, as an anchoring quality of this artefact, have gradually
The artefact of 'Elvis' is another example of the persistence
of artefactual qualities beyond the supposed whereabouts of any
'body'. The massive variety and range of artefacts that surround
the central originating artefact provides a legitimacy and strength
to the subject-less and body-less Elvis. The distanciation of
the Elvis subject and Elvis artefact by increasing amounts of
time provides an increasingly flexible set of meanings that are
attached to the (now) non-existent originating artefact. However,
no explosion of meaning has occurred around the artefact of Elvis
as it is moderated by other Elvis artefacts that stand as proxy
both physically and meaningfully to the original. The Mojo Nixon
song of the late 80s may summarise the state of Elvisia, and of
all artefacts: "Elvis is everywhere".
These examples stress the tenuous and uncertain relationship of
particular artefactual qualities to the amalgam artefact. The
increased fluidity that is found within these combinations can
be claimed as a hallmark of post-industrial societies. The dissolution
of archaeological certainty may also be the harbinger for the
post-material by unbinding the artefact from a perceived necessity
for physical qualities. The necessity of physicality as an essential
quality of artefacts can be considered as a culturally specific
formulation which can, as a consequence, be meaningfully disentangled.
An obverse example of this cultural particularity can be found
with 'laws'. These are an abstract network of concepts within
European cultures but are considered within parts of Japanese
culture to possess distinct colours. The fascination with the
physical within European anthropology makes this cultural practice
appear unusual as the colour of an artefact is generally considered
a physical quality. This, then, raises the possibility that the
Japanese consider their 'laws' as artefacts rather than texts.
However, despite the argument that the physical is but one particular
realm of qualities held by an artefact, the Japanese example forces
the consideration of whether one artefactual quality is sufficient
to derive a sense of an artefact. Conjoined to this is also the
need to assess whether possessing colour is a quality of artefacts
in Japanese culture (cf. Baudrillard 1996, 30-6).
A more recent example within post-industrial society which has
entirely removed the need for physciality within an artefactual
space is found in the formations of cyberspace. The most 'visible'
artefactual quality of cyberspace is its architecture, a none-to-surprising
connection considering the computer-mediated nature of this space.
Visitors to web-based chat pages, a particularly narrow formulation
of cyberspace, speak and apparently conceptualise of 'rooms' and
wonder who is 'listening' to their conversations. Some web sites
have taken the simulation further with users passing through 'doors'
and 'climbing stairs' to reach further 'rooms'. One site, perhaps
as an indication of its claimed quality, or size, dubs itself
The Palace. The relative ease in which these ascription
are assumed and accepted in the post-materiality of cyberspace
reflects a movement in post-industrial society and consumer culture
away from the need for physical presence towards an identity and
meaning orientated presence.
The possibility for an artefactual, post-material space problematises
the assumption that artefacts are constituted within a 'real'
and knowable world. The relationship between the ideational and
physical in the post-material world is, as it is in other social
spaces, a negotiated position. Baudrillard takes this 'negotiation'
to an absolute solution in his claim that:
The impossibility of rediscovering an absolute level of the real
is of the same order as the impossibility of staging illusion.
Illusion is no longer possible, because the real is no longer
possible (Baudrillard 1994, 19).
The negotiation is extended in the post-material to make the physical
an unnecessary artefactual quality. Another example which also
suggests that artefacts are not the consequence of a fixed or
measured amount of particular qualities comes, perhaps ironically,
from archaeology. The material extracted from archaeological 'digs'
again becomes artefactual through the ascriptions offered of them
by, admittedly theoried, archaeologists ostensibly gazing through
the crystal ball of cultural and temporal distance (Hodder 1989,
67). The interpreted artefacts of archaeology possesses a complex
provenance. A complexity revealed, in part, by the range of claims
that can be proposed regarding their origin and one which reveals
the difference between the claims of realists and those who emphasise
the ideational aspects of the social.
These distinctions and assertions approach the greatest density
within a museum. However, the museum, as an artefact which is
itself produced as a consequence of a series of cultural and social
conditions which are literally 'set in concrete', imparts a coherence
and logic on to the encased artefacts for the assumed audience.
The museum presents an environment of tightly bound and inter-related
artefactual meanings that reflect and reproduce systems of power
and authority. Bourdieu even describes the museum as a 'consecrated
building' (Bourdieu 1986, 273). The artefacts found within this
space become part of a series of power relationships that substitute,
and have little connection to, the relations of power found in
their original provenance. This is possible through the privilege
that the space of museums ascribes to the physical qualities of
the displayed artefacts. Museums that adopt a diorama approach
to the presentation of their artefactual holdings fix particular
sets of cultural and social meaning to artefacts in a reflection
of the 'solidity' of the artefact of the museum itself. Dioramas
frame artefacts in a vision of an 'other' culture. The Ripley's
Believe it or Not 'museums' take the privileges imparted by the
space of the museum and the emphasis on physical qualities to
its apogee. This museum presents wax replicas of various oddities
for the amusement of an audience. The privilege of a museum is
stressed through authoritative signs, exhibition halls and a structured
pathway through the exhibits. The veracity of claims made in this
space rely upon the privilege of 'being' a museum. Similarly,
the traditional display methods that visually present taxonomies
of 'like' artefacts fix particular cultural meanings. However,
these meanings were products of the same culture as the artefact
of the museum itself (Baudrillard 1996, 98). This taxonomic approach,
while it provides less entertainment, could be claimed as the
more 'ethical' of the two approaches in its presentation of artefactual
It is not coincidental that both archaeological and post-material
artefacts should exhibit similar qualities by not possessing a
'complete' accumulation of artefactual qualities. These two examples
are the extremes of a continuum that regards the specifically
physical set of qualities that contribute to the sense of the
artefacts. Artefacts can be considered in relation to other specific
qualities, however, physical qualities are those that are most
regularly considered. It is the interlocking and interrelated
network of continuums of artefactual qualities that builds the
interpretative plain upon which artefacts can be considered and
The combination of artefactual qualities, which positions the
artefact on the interpretative plain, produces particular understandings
of the social. Although a realist position may argue otherwise,
the artefact can never be, in itself, a fully articulated system.
An artefact may be understood by the presence or absence of certain
qualities, however, it only approaches full articulation by being
considered in its 'space' and in relation to the other artefacts
of that space (Miller 1991, 109-11; Shanks & Hodder 1997,
11). This articulation constructs an expectation for the artefact
and, in turn, the artefact crafts an expectation for the space.
This social expectation also strongly associates particular artefacts
to specific meanings. This is found with many artefacts, but particularly
with those that have a minimal intensity of interpretation applied
to them. These are the artefacts of rarity and mundanity. The
forms of bureaucracy, the utensils of the kitchen and the tools
of literacy, as a near random series of examples, are all artefacts
which are expected to exhibit certain qualities or applications
- a 'normality'. This claim shares a kinship with Bourdieu's notion
of the habitus and his flexible structuralism (Miller 1991, 103).
An expectation of normality provides a key anchorage for the meaning
of the artefact in this association with a particular quality
or set of qualities. Institutions associated with bureaucracy
implies consequent action with the accurate completion of forms
(as artefacts) and this is a source of power for these artefacts.
There is an apparently singular rationale for bureaucratic forms
and this is a reflection of the power that they represent. The
normalcy of this artefact, is, however, an albeit powerful social
construction which is bound by its artefactual qualities to a
specific space. The difficulty in imagining the bureaucratic form
as anything other than a form is a reflection of the power of
the relationship found between the subject and the artefact.
Inter-related systems of artefacts also support and maintain
power relations through the production of transgressive artefacts
which appear to work in opposition to dominant social relations.
In a mechanical sense, a transgressive artefact is produced when
artefactual qualities differ from those that are implied by knowledge
of the space and the other artefacts that are juxtaposed with
the transgressive artefact. To varying degrees this creates 'strangeness'.
The mutation of the 'sword' in the Trobriand Islands has created
a transgressive artefact for Trobrianders who interpret a lime
scraper from the artefactual qualities of a flattened and carved
piece of wood. Similarly the current 'Western' trend for 'new
tribalism' and early 80s punk produce transgressive body/artefacts
through various practices of body modification. Curiously, these
examples both reveal the utilisation of cross-cultural, or supposedly
cross-cultural, practices in order to construct a trangressive
artefact within an 'other' culture.
Artefacts, the Self and Social Power
Social power is obtained and lost through the manipulation of
the relationship between artefacts, the artefactual qualities
themselves and, the social relationships which are bound with
those artefacts. The power of artefacts is inherited from the
social relations that produce and define the artefact. Power is
also related to the extent, range and forms of interpretation
that are applied to the artefact (Gottdiener 1995, 68). Artefacts
that are representative of absolute political power, in forms
such as totalitarianism, occupy a smaller interpretative plain
and possess different artefactual qualities than more mundane
items. Artefacts such as the British Crown Jewels and monumental
architecture provide less opportunity for 'misinterpretation'.
The difficulty in providing a 'misinterpretation' for these artefacts
of absolute political power defines any misinterpretation as an
act of resistance to the present regime. The questioning of political
authority, similarly, increases the intensity of interpretations
that are applied to these artefacts. This intensity is inversely
related to the power that they can represent and reproduce (Baudrillard
'Everyday' artefacts are also positioned on a small interpretative
plain. The paucity in the range of interpretations that are available
is apparently a consequence of their persistence within the mundane.
However, a narrowed plain of interpretation is a consequence of
the strength of particular power relations that act upon the artefact.
Our belief that there is a limited range of interpretations that
can be applied to a fork is closely related to the extent that
the fork is bound into a dense system of artefactual relationships.
In the case of the fork, it is bound into a range of other apparently
mundane items with such a density that it is hard to conceptualise
the fork without the supporting artefactual qualities brought
by a knife. This small system frames larger networks and wider
parameters of power.
Obversely, just as social relations bind and restrict the interpretations
of an artefact, social interpretations limit the artefact. The
conflation of physical qualities of the fork with the artefact
of fork restricts which artefacts possess an artefactuality of
'forkness'. These limits to the artefact of the 'fork' are limitations
imposed through individual artefactual qualities. The limitations
that are introduced onto an artefact from its artefactual qualities
are shifting and changing measures for the 'borders' of an artefact
(Miller 1991, 116). The artefact is temporarily restricted by
these shifting but in continually different ways. These limitations
are not inherent in the artefact itself but appear to be through
the mediation of contemporary social relations and the manner
by which artefacts are perceived. Tilley, similarly, says: "An
object, any object, has no ultimate or unitary meaning that can
be held to exhaust it." (Tiller 1989, 191).
The fork also indicates the deceptiveness of understanding an
artefact primarily from its physical qualities. The fork's functional
simplicity, as a fork, is a manufactured simplicity and reflects
the lengthy heritage that has contributed to the current physical
forms of the artefact. None of this heritage is reflected in its
direct and uncritical observation.
Distinguishing the artefact as a social product and as an amalgam
of various qualities provides the opportunity for a reflexive
and postmodern 'material culture studies'. The possibility for
immaterial artefacts is very much a product of its time. Without
the influence of debates surrounding, and the fascination with,
cyberspace, the suggestion that the immaterial can equally be
considered artefactually would probably be considered esoteric.
However, in seeing cyberspace as artefactual it becomes apparent
that this is not an original claim but rather one that has been
hinted at through theology, literature, mythology and the social
sciences. The insistence that artefacts must possess physical
qualities is possibly a culturally specific one. Adopting the
argument that artefacts are those 'things' that are experienced
as phenomena beyond one's self provides for a wider ranging, but
more workable, understanding of material culture. This argument,
however, blurs the distinction, if any does exist, between 'reality'
and ideational phenomena. Hodder's observation that: "...some
artists are convinced that the only truth left is to reach beyond
image to find reality, while at the same time accepting that reality
is itself only an image" (Hodder 1989, 66) indicates some
of the complexity present in these states.
Distinctions such as these, if they need to be made, may be be
found in arguing for the significance of the sense of the artefact.
This sense of the artefact - artefactuality - can be recognised
as another method of constituting power but more basically as
a method for conveying meaning. The post-material, then, is found
in a sense of the artefact which is unconnected from, or in a
deferred connection with, physical qualities. The persistence,
meaning and coherence of the artefact resides in its social construction
and maintanence, and its relationship to other, similarly constructed,
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