Suppose this here is not number 1, and this number – 3 – isn’t really the number three. Lets suppose the world we lived in said that in order for us to be able and count “1”, we needed to go to a particular place and look at a specific rock in the shape of 1.
In that world, if we did 1 + 1, it would have never been a real addition of 1 and 1 numbers. It would, at the most, be perhaps permitted as a sort of leniency?
Suppose in that number object oriented fetish world, the number “2” would never be three unless it was in a particular temple/building where the “holly 3” is kept by some monks.
Perhaps, every time we used the number “3”, as in 3 – 1, a donation might be required to be paid as a way to keep up the holly “3” we have just imitated instead of going to visit?
In terms of the obvious analogy, artists have been trying to “deal” with these question a fair amount of time, times and occasions.
However, I think art has been unable to free its objects from being fetishised. That is, in my view, because the very current perception of that which is art, is equivalent to that which becomes art via fetishisation. The comodity, the mass produced, the digital copy, the idea, the process, the project might be “Art” when it is within a fetish process.
the fetishisation might be linking to art world value like money, or a signature of a person designated as an “artist”, a linking of the project with some history that is already taken as culturally fetishisable, or indeed a performance of processes which might “elevate” results of that process – which might even be a documentation – to stuff which is beyond the functional, a production of difference between the life of surviving and that of dysfunctional and culturally interesting.
IOn some ways, I think, the materiality of numbers, or indeed other abstracts, escapes these limitations places on art in the name of creativity.
It seems that specific writings, for example, mathematical, or logical, manuscripts might be fetishised. However, the numbers used, or the formula arrived at, can be easily used, questioned, and created with. e.g. say the general relativity theory manuscripts.
In this way perhaps there are some links with questions to do with quotes of writers, or usage of musical notes?
I do not know.
Its seems to me that perhaps the difference between a sequence of numbers such as 1313133, a calculation such as 13+13-133, and the sequence of notes like: agdb#, or a line as: “The rollergum’s doom came as a cheer.” – is that the last 2 examples’ materiality was not kept for its ability to be copied, re-used, abused, interrogated and created with. The last 2 examples were kept because a monetary value fetish could be attached.
There used to be a time in europe when mathematical formulas were indeed, like musical lines and objects, and word sequences, kept under wraps of secrecy.
Are we not all a bit much richer for the fact mathematics freed itself from that need to fetishise parts of it linguistic materiality?