It is important to understand though, that 'patients' in agent/patient interactions are not entirely passive; they may resist. The concept of agency implies the overcoming of resistance, difficulty, inertia, etc. Art objects are characteristically 'difficult'. They are difficult to make, difficlut to 'think', difficut to transact. They fascinate, compel, and entrap as well as delight the specataor. Their peculiraity, intransigence and oddness is a key factor in their efficacy as social instruments. Moreover, in the vicinity of art objects, struggles for control are played out in which 'patients' intervene in the enchainment of intention, instrument and result as 'passive agents', that is, intermediaries between ultimate agents and ultimate patients. Agent/patient relations from nested heirarchies whose characteristics will be described in due course. The concept of the 'patient' is not, therefore a simple one, in that being a 'patient' may be a form of (derivative) agency.
Gell / Art & Agency / 24