Modal realism & art.

a round square
What is modal realism.

The view that the world at any instance could be distinct in some way from the present state of affairs. That is so long as there is no contradiction of any state of affairs. (see grandfather paradox)

What has modal realism got to do with art?

Any ascribed art object is an ordinary object. Though possibly any ordinary object could never be an art object. Therefore ordinary objects could be art objects.

Necessity of the art object

The problem modal realism poses to the artistic pursuit is the rendering of a possible world, as actual. Actual as a necessary condition, therefore denoting the object/art as possible if imagined to be true. However, if the name links to a referent, it is an art object by token of being actual. However, this faces the problem outlined by Russel pertaining to the existence of persons in relation to a description. Kripke, a contemporary philosopher, suggests the ‘cluster concept theory’. A series of concepts gives a more robust meaning to a name. The philosophical point: is this the case in all possible worlds? A couple more questions. Could art exist in all possible worlds? Could art have no resemblance if in another world? So if not art in all possible worlds, what makes it art in this world?

Art object as true in all possible worlds.

Artists who ponder the philosophical foundations fall into two primary camps. The realist material world theorists, or idealists mental construct theorists. However, a third and often overlooked option, is a possible world realism. The first two categories lay within the literature of art history. Realism pertains to anthropological material culture as an artifact. Idealism is the characteristic Romantic style. Its vouchsafed by anything external to the individual, in a bid for passionate personal commitment. The lifestyle or idealistic goal. Possible worlds relate to contingent identity. An art object is contingent to a referent. The referent may go by different names. However only a particular could be the creator of that object in all possible worlds. This entails a cluster of concepts that ‘rigidly designates’ between object and referent. This compatibilist approach to realism and idealism takes on many forms.

Modality realism as distinct essences pertaining to objects

A thought experiment around modal realism.

Sculptures X and Y have the identical form. That is each sculpture is made from the same caste.
Sculptures X and Y also have identical aggregate or material substance. That is the pile of sand and cement are similar in content.
Are both sculptures identical?
Well in the sense that an observer could not identify X from Y they seem to be in form and content copies.

However, if X and Y have distinct modal essences then a divergence would take place once the aggregate is caste.
That is each sculpture has distinct modal properties.

X could be different from Y by token of being separated by space-time. According to the theory of relativity, the change in each object would make each object distinct if that object travelled at the speed of light. Identity necessarily changes if sculpture X went at a relative speed to sculpture Y by token of being at any given distance form Y. The following puzzle ensues. If X could possibly be different in a conceivable world then arguably it would be so just as X and Y are different relative to factors of physicalist relativity theory.

A painterly depiction as image trace from photo of Artist, Italo Giardina, with marble sculpture of Cassowary. A modal artistic real depiction.
A modal artistic real depiction given an image trace of a real photographic image.