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Umberto Eco, The Open Work and its Constraints

Eco’s notion of “The Open Work” is an attempt to understand modern artworks which can be rendered open by their author, and further completed by the performer, viewer, reader or audience. This notion legitimates the variety of interpretations one work may give us. But despite how we may never know which interpretation is the correct one, we cannot have unlimited interpretations of a work either. I will explain how Eco’s concept of openness relates to Interpretation and to modern aesthetics. Once this is explained, I will point to the consequences that the concept of “openness,” understood also as “unfinished work” or “work in movement,” give raise to. Most of these consequences have to do with the limits of interpretation constrained by the intentionality of the author and the constraints of history. I am also including a few responses to Eco’s notion of…

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