Drawing and time
Monday, 31 March 2014
Drawing and time
Friday, 28 March 2014
The core idea that Johnson and Lakoff develop is that we make meaning by linking things to what we know and the thing we know most about is our own body. They argue that the mind is 'embodied', i.e. that if we were a different shape or size, or if our sense organs were different, like a bat's for example, we would think very differently, therefore the old mind/body divide, as illustrated by Descartes' maxim, 'I think therefore I am', needs rethinking. Taking a concept such as ‘justice’ Johnson and Lakoff trace this back through what they call body schemas. We are very aware of balance because of the fact that we stand on two legs, therefore we spend a lot of time being balanced in order to stand, walk etc. If something goes wrong we are off balance; for instance if we are injured or ill. Of course in extreme cases such as very old age or bad injury, we can’t rise into a balanced position. Gradually an awareness of balance and off balance becomes transferred to an awareness of things being right or wrong. This gradually evolves into a sense of justice and this is why we have a statue of justice with a pair of scales over the Old Bailey law courts. It is this type of connection through resemblance that allows us to develop sophisticated concepts via what can be seen as quite basic similarities.
So much has been written about this image that I don’t really want to add any more, but it would be interesting to trace the layers of history that lie behind Durer’s imagery, to explore how geometric figures are slowly transformed over time into forms that stand for concepts, how children are used to stand for various concepts from innocence, to the idea of the tabula rasa, or in this case the concept of the accompanying spirit or ‘genius’. Why does the central figure ‘Melancholy’ have wings and how did the keys and money bag hanging from her belt become symbols for power and wealth? What is interesting is perhaps the journey that these things have taken on the road towards becoming symbols. It is a journey that starts with ‘resemblance’ and this is why mimesis is such a rich area within which to explore ideas.
Going back to Keith Coventry, (see the post before last), the Tate Gallery has this to say about his work:
This is a contemporary allegory. Artists are still trying to make allegories and in doing so rely on mimesis in order to build ideas through resemblance. It is for me a key and enduring concept that links contemorary practice back to thousands of years of art history.
Gombrich, E (2006) Art and Illusion
Kamdi, M. M. (2004) Art and Cognition: Mimesis vs. the Avant Garde London: Routledge
Donald, M (2002) A Mind So Rare: The Evolution of Human Consciousness London: Norton
Walton, K. L. (1993) Mimesis as Make-believe: On the Foundations of the Representational Arts New York: Harvard University Press
Hagberg, G. (1984) Aristotle's "Mimesis" and Abstract Art
Hanssen, B. (2000) Walter Benjamin's Other History: Of Stones, Animals, Human Beings, and Angels San Francisco: Uni of California Press
Halliwell, S (2002) The Aesthetics of Mimesis: Ancient Texts and Modern Problems New York: Princeton University Press
Bolt, B (2007) Material Thinking and the Agency of Matter Studies in Material Thinking, Vol. 1, No. 1 (April 2007), ISSN 1177-6234, AUT University http://www.materialthinking.org/sites/default/files/papers/Barbara.pdf
Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Copula. (Foucault, 1970)
Tuesday, 25 March 2014
— Walter Benjamin, “On the Mimetic Faculty” 1933
Compare these two images.
Saturday, 22 March 2014
There was a point to this type of writing, when it started (1970s) 'deconstruction' was seen as the art writer's main role. Writers were trying to build a language that could deal with the way different meanings could be not just picked out by a viewer, but how paintings and other art could be "read as texts", a phrase which itself now sounds very 'IAE'. Like most things this type of writing was a reaction to what went before. Art writing in the 1950s tended to be very flowery and made claims for an art of the time that were overly romantic and completely unrealistic.
Picking up an issue from the previous post though, one problem is mimesis. We are hard wired to copy what others do, especially if we aspire to their position in life. Therefore if this type of language is spoken amongst the international art gallery set, and you want to be seen as the type of artist that would fit in, you will begin to echo 'IAE' in the phrases that you use. The writer Pierre Bourdieu explained how this happens in his book 'Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste' which is well worth a read if you want to develop an argument as to how someone might develop such a thing as 'taste'.
Friday, 21 March 2014
The full stop in a sentence gives us time to breath and get ready to move on, but it also signals that a particular piece of information has been summed up or concluded. These points are vital to the language structure as they indicate a certain closure, the left hand being perhaps what Barthes would term the ‘punctum’ of the image, or as he helpfully put it, that which 'pierces the viewer'. (Barthes, 1993).
Hopefully as a drawing student you can get an idea of how the interpretation of a single drawing can lead to a way of thinking about much wider issues. I will add other posts about art writing, but you could also send me images of your own drawings and I could look at how a written dialogue could be developed with them too.