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The tradition of modern and contemporary art seems to be characterised by an endless pushing back of the boundaries separating art and everyday life, art and the sphere of the social. This is typically interpreted in terms of a work of merging and blurring – an effort of interference that affects dimensions of both art and life. This paper suggests an alternative conception. Drawing upon the metaphor of electronic multiplexing, it argues that, while never simply absolutely distant from one another, art and the sphere of lived relations and social interaction are closely interleaved and yet retain a sense of distinct, differentiated identity. The energy of their relation, their potential to suggest new relations, depends upon an interplay of heterogeneous and always contingently determinable component signals.