In this article we discuss the modern premises of visuality and the effects of the cultural transfer of optical and photographic techniques on the work of Max Blecher, a Romanian Jewish writer who was a keen explorer of Marcel Proust’s works. In his works Blecher pursued the same theme as Proust—the mechanisms of interior memory and life—and often used optical instruments as a metaphor of identity. The role of the photographic model in his depiction of social tableaux, characters, and (...) dispositions, originated partly in the influence of Proust’s writing and partly in other techniques of the European literary avant-gardes. (shrink)
This article examines the relation between the biblical Word and visuality in one of the surviving early thirteenth century manuscripts of the Bible moraliseé, the codex Vindobonensis 2554 today housed in Vienna. The analysis focuses specifically on the relations between word and visuality. The goal is to investigate the vitality that may set the Word into motion. It is argued that the matrix of textual visuality in the Vienna codex 2554 is used as an effective tool that (...) adds vitality to the biblical passages while simultaneously creating a firm hierarchy of representation and resemblances that enforces not only certain norms but also a particular world order in 13th century French society. (shrink)
The following dissertation shows how German Literature negotiates the relationship between language and the visual arts, particularly in Romantic narratives. In contrast with authors of the Enlightenment, the Romantics tend to deny specificity to visual experience and in so doing dedifferentiate visual experience from the textual. ;The initial, methodological, chapter explicates perceptual models informed by the interplay of the philosophical approaches of Kant and Wittgenstein with the psychoanalytic discourse of Freud. In Chapter Two, I turn to Lessing's Laokoon Uder uber (...) die Grenzen der Malerei und Poesie , in which he divides the arts into pictoral and linguistic signs. While the boundary between the two appears quite clear in Laokoon, his play Emilia Galotti reveals Lessing's anxiety that the difference cannot be so easily maintained. ;The subsequent chapter explores the representation of the visual arts in Tieck's Franz Sternbalds Wanderungen . After a discussion of Wackenroder's Herzensergiessungen eines kunstliebenden Klosterbruders , 1 turn to Tieck's novel about a young student of Albrecht Durer. The novel responds to the ostensible binary between language and the visual arts by transmuting the distinction into one between readable landscape paintings and phantasmatic images that guide the protagonist. ;As another example of this Romantic viewpoint, I analyze Brentano's Godwi oder das steinerne Bild der Mutter . Here I use the distinction between symbol and allegory to point out the ways in which the text turns the difference between the arts into one between rhetorical figures. A similar manifestation of the problem occurs in Eichendorff's Das Marmorbild , discussed in Chapter Five. The novella follows the same lines as Lessing's Laokoon, thematizing the materiality of its eponymous marble statue. My final chapter concerns Kleist's model of visual perception, which is closely bound to his theology in his tales "Die heilige Cacilie" and "Der Findling" . ;Writing Images interprets the role of visuality in German Romantic literature in order to understand an unresolved problematic of late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century thought for those who would too quickly either differentiate between or conflate the visual and the written. (shrink)
In the philosophy and psychology of perception there exists a long-standing debate about the detachability of the visual from the conceptual contents of perception. The article analyses the implications of this dilemma for the attribution of aesthetic properties independent of the classification of aesthetic objects and the possibility of aesthetic formalism.
For Georg Simmel, humans confront their basic contradiction in the city, and such contradiction warrants critical assessment to help in the long tradition of articulating the problematic development of cities or metropolises, and hopefully advocate for the kind of life we want. This contradiction is a corollary to the modern visual aesthetics of young, contemporary artists such as Iza Caparas, Farley del Rosario and Daniel Aligaen. Their works not only depict the city or urban living; also their styles or sense (...) of aesthetics are informed on a larger scale by the geopolitics of the ’70s up to the present, the influence of the early modernist artists, and their own estimation as well of what is happening in the country. This paper uses visual impairment or blindness as a trope for modernist aesthetics. The contradiction of city life produces this particular problematic vision that is then appropriated by these young painters. In this paper I am guided by three important questions: How do I understand the city and its contradictions? How is the city depicted in the paintings of young contemporary artists? How do I talk about modernist paintings and aesthetics in terms of the dynamics of city or urban life? (shrink)
A new line of self projection magazines that started blooming in Lagos, Nigeria, about the mid-1990s defined itself by filling almost completely every issue with photographs that depict politicians, businesspeople, sports and show business stars enjoying fruits of their extraordinary achievements on festive occasions. The magazine’s cozy coverage of the rich and famous irks a lot of serious cultural and literary critics who believe that this style resembles praise singing too closely. This paper, unlike mainline criticisms of the pictorial magazines, (...) takes praise singing to be a serious subject. Its central proposition is that the Nigerian magazine culture embraced these magazines because they have successfully translated into photography the panegyric tendency that pervades popular, self-projection arts in the underlying Yorùbá cultural environment of southwestern Nigeria. The sub-genre of Yorùbá panegyric that the magazines rework into the photographic medium is oríkì bọ̀rọ̀kìnní, or praise chants of the eminent. The paper analyzes sample issues of Ovation magazine to outline ways of placing contemporary African cultural forms in a long perspective and to propose an example of how inter-mediality operates today in popular cultures. In the concluding section, the essay proposes that a “poetic” understanding of photography, as opposed to “theatricality” and or melancholic substitution, represents the best way to think about the type of festive portraiture practiced in Ovationand its imitators. (shrink)
Looking out of the window of a speeding car, receiving photographs of Earth from outer space, watching the flickering images of the TV screen, scrolling through a text, zooming in on a location in Google Earth, or sending images via mobile ...
This book engages with the question of making sense of seeing in today’s technologically dominated world. It does so by exploring the notion of the ‘hypermodern’, a term which is used to capture the drive in contemporary culture to achieve ever greater speed and efficiency.
Visuality is a concept used to study vision as an historically and culturally specific activity. Curriculum in the medical humanities could address visuality by stressing how different kinds of practitioners and peoples learn how to see. This paper introduces the visual training promoted by the discipline of art history, analysing early modern French medical images of the unborn as a case study. The goal is to encourage medical practitioners to reflect on their own visual skills, comparing and contrasting (...) them with the visual methodologies of art history. (shrink)
Computation and formalization are not modalities of pure abstractive operations. The essay tries to revise the assumption of the constitutive nonsensuality of the formal. The argument is that formalization is a kind of linear spatialization, which has significant visual dimensions. Thus, a connection can be discovered between visualization by figurative graphism and formalization by symbolic calculations: Both use spatial relations not only to represent but also to operate on epistemic, nonspatial, nonvisual entities. Descartes was one of the pioneers of using (...) this kind of two-dimensional spatiality as a cognitive instrument. (shrink)
What is the basis for the enormous success of Historicism? In my paper I attempt to answer this question by deploying the concept of the cultural pattern. A 'cultural pattern' may be defined as the connection of concepts and practices which have gained a relative perpetuity through cultural habitualization. Cultural patterns include a combination of interpretative schemes according to which the world can be categorized, structured and interpreted with individual or social practices which either develop out of, or follow these (...) schemes. Because they combine concepts and practices in a significant manner they gain a contour which enables the creation of communicative addressability, practical appropriation and discursive analysis and hence the creation of a long-term exemplary status. A cultural pattern according to this definition has a relative stability and an observable effect over a long period of time, but which is simultaneously liable to permanent actualization and adaption. Historicism has been considered to be a basic thought-pattern of modernity since Troeltsch, Meinecke and Koselleck; defining Historicism as a cultural pattern can help to explain its long-term effectiveness and its continuing productivity to the present day. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis review of Martin Jay's recent published collection of essays examines his ongoing rethinking, supplementation, and revision of central themes—the negative and positive dialectics of historical totalization, the varieties and uses of conceptions of experience, the nature of visual cultures and scopic regimes, and the ambiguities of truth‐construction in the public realm—that have been the focus of his major works since the 1970s. It argues that his more recent work indicates a gradual shift toward an affirmation of the kinds of (...) paratactic and deconstructive thinking of Adorno and Derrida as models for producing appropriate forms of historical consciousness and historical critique in the present, and it raises the question of how the issues of historical truth‐telling, consensual collective identity, ethical action, and the cultural role of the critical intellectual are reformulated in this process. (shrink)
Written over the course of two months in early 2008, Art as "Night" is a series of essays in part inspired by a January 2007 visit to the Velázquez exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, London, with subsequent forays into related themes and art-historical judgments for and against theories of meta-painting. Art as "Night" proposes a type of a-historical dark knowledge crossing painting since Velázquez, but reaching back to the Renaissance, especially Titian and Caravaggio. As a form of formalism, (...) this "night" is also closely allied with forms of intellection that come to reside in art as pure visual agency or material knowledge while invoking moral agency, a function of art more or less bracketed in modern art for ethical and/or political agency. Not a theory of meta-painting, Art as "Night" restores coordinates arguably lost in painting since the separation of natural and moral philosophy in the Baroque era. It is with Velázquez that we see a turning point, an emphasis on the specific resources of painting as a form of speculative intellect, while it is with contemporary works by Gerhard Richter and Anselm Kiefer that we see the return of the same after the collapse of modernism, and after subsequent postmodern maneuvers to make art discursive yet without the austerities of the formal means present in Art as Art. Art as "Night" argues for a nondiscursive form of intellection fully embodied in the work of art – and, foremost, painting. A synoptic and intentionally elusive and allusive survey of painting, through the collapse of the art market in late 2007, Art as "Night" suggests by way of this critique of an elective "night" crossing painting that the art world is an endlessly deferred version of pleroma , a fully synthetic world given to an exploration and appropriation of the given through classical mimesis and epistemology and its complete incorporation and transfiguration in a theory of knowledge and art as pure speculative agency. In effect, Art as "Night" is an incarnational theory of art as absolute knowledge. (shrink)
If anything marks the image, it is a deep ambivalence. Denounced as superficial, illusory, and groundless, images are at the same time attributed with exorbitant power and assigned a privileged relation to truth. Mistrusted by philosophy, forbidden and embraced by religions, manipulated as “spectacle” and proliferated in the media, images never cease to present their multiple aspects, their paradoxes, their flat but receding spaces.What is this power that lies in the depths and recesses of an image—which is always only an (...) impenetrable surface? What secrets are concealed in the ground or in the figures of an image—which never does anything but show just exactly what it is and nothing else? How does the immanence of images open onto their unimaginable others, their imageless origin?In this collection of writings on images and visual art, Jean-Luc Nancy explores such questions through an extraordinary range of references. From Renaissance painting and landscape to photography and video, from the image of Roman death masks to the language of silent film, from Cleopatra to Kant and Heidegger, Nancy pursues a reflection on visuality that goes far beyond the many disciplines with which it intersects. He offers insights into the religious, cultural, political, art historical, and philosophical aspects of the visual relation, treating such vexed problems as the connection between image and violence, the sacred status of images, and, in a profound and important essay, the forbidden representation of the Shoah. In the background of all these investigations lies a preoccupation with finitude, the unsettling forces envisaged by the images that confront us, the limits that bind us to them, the death that stares back at us from their frozen traits and distant intimacies.In these vibrant and complex essays, a central figure in European philosophy continues to work through some of the most important questions of our time. Jean-Luc Nancy is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Université Marc Bloch, Strasbourg. The most recent of his many books to be published in English are A Finite Thinking and Multiple Arts. Jeff Fort has translated works by authors such as Jean Genet, Maurice Blanchot, and Jacques Derrida. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. (shrink)
In this interview, Judith Butler speaks about her most recent work, especially Excitable Speech , in terms of how it represents a continuation of certain themes and how it represents moves into new terrains of debate. In particular, she addresses both possible critiques of her work, expecially around the issue of the possibility of political visions and the attention to speech when theorizing subjectification, and responds to questions around certain related themes such as: just what is the possibility of using (...) the same analytical framework to talk both about racializing and gendering processes? How useful is the concept of melancholia? How are textuality and visuality interconnected? (shrink)
This new Encyclopedia of Postmodernism is structured with biographical entries on all the key contributors to the postmodernism debate, including Mikhail Bakhtin, Pierre Bourdieum, Jacques Derrida, Jurgen Habermas and Wittgenstein. Providing an all-encompassing and welcome addition to the field, the Encyclopedia contains entries on foundational concepts of postmodernism which have revolutionized thinking in every intellectual discipline. This new Encyclopedia is the first to provide comprehensive A-Z coverage of the key individuals and concepts of postmodernism. The 300+ entries include: * African (...) American studies * Roland Barthes * binary opposition * Buddhism * comparative literature * cyberculture * death of God * Gilles Deleuze * desire * digital culture * end of history * globalization * grand narrative * improvisation * jouissance * logocentrism * metalanguage * sadism * theatre arts * trope * visuality * Cornell West * and much more. Fully cross-referenced and indexed, with suggestionsfor further reading. (shrink)
This short piece introduces the Special Issue, giving both a general sense of the terms `belonging' and `performativity', and discussing key related concepts that unite the articles of the issue: difference and their differences; the politics of visuality; embodiment; and the idea of routes. The predominant themes as they appear in the different articles are discussed under these headings.
This paper considers the use of the ‘Mondrian Stimulus’, invented by Edwin H. Land of the Polaroid Corporation, in various investigations in the visual neuropsychology, the neuroaesthetics, and the social psychology of aesthetic response to works of visual art. What difference does it make—in the set-up of these investigations and in our interpretation of their putative results—that the Mondrian Stimulus might be taken to be a ‘real’ painting by the actual Dutch artist Piet Mondrian? How does the existence of a (...) set of ‘real’ Mondrians—more or less well known to many people, including those investigated in experiments by Land, Zeki, and Noll—affect the ways in which the Mondrian Stimulus is apprehended? The paper argues that the Mondrian Stimulus is ‘bound’ to the history and visual recollection of ‘real Mondrians’ at the same time as the ‘real Mondrians’—in their historical afterlives—are bound to other creations of ‘modern abstract art’. These proposals enable a revised approach to the relations between invariant visual responses on the one hand, and different visual cultures or visuality on the other; because of its own special history of ‘binding’ and ‘unbinding’, the Mondrian Stimulus works as an interface between—a binding of—both ‘bottom-up’ perceptual input and processing and ‘top-down’ direction of attention. (shrink)
Cultural Semiosis traces the theoretical itinerary of the signifier in the continental tradition. Cultural semiosis provides links for cultural studies to the philosophical, the literary, the historical and the social. Understood semiotically, cultural signs and signifiers are inscribed in the fabric of cultural practices. Cultural semiosis enters the spaces of everyday language, visuality, sexuality and symbolization. These original essays interpret and provide tools for the understanding of cultural studies within a philosophical framework. Contributors: M. Alison Arnett, Debra Bergoffen, Peter (...) Carravetta, Alessandro Carrera, Julia Kristeva, John Llewelyn, Michael Naas, Kelly Oliver, Adi Ophir, Francois Raffoul, Mark Roberts, Stephanie Sage, Hugh J. Silverman. (shrink)
The article is a critical response to Stefán Snævarr’s “Pragmatism and Popular Culture: Shusterman, Popular Art, and the Challenge of Visuality.”In its first part, I attempt to prove that several of Snævarr’s claims about popular culture and new media, which form the basic premises of his diagnosis of the alleged intellectual decline of the West, are either dubious or wrong. Moreover, in the context of this diagnosis, Snævarr levels some serious accusations against Richard Shusterman’s theory of popular culture, which, (...) I believe, are ungrounded and do not do justice to the latter’s approach. Henceforth, the remainder of the article is devoted to explaining in which aspects Snævarr’s interpretation of Richard Shusterman’s theory is misguided. (shrink)
This article offers a philosophical account of a range of urban phenomena that are integral to the visual fabric of the modern city and, at the same time, external to the visual order administered by the city’s rulers. Explaining why the common terms of “graffiti” and “street art” are too narrow for discussing the plurality of the illicit visual forms that populate the city’s space, I coin the alternative term “streetography” and aim at a new understanding of its visual efficacy. (...) This is done by showing that the key for deciphering the streetograph’s unique visuality is its form of embeddedness in the street and, in a corollary manner, the form of visual experience—the kinds of viewing—that the street opens for the urban viewer.Streetographs always operate within the city’s given visual order and as such the question of their efficacy is addressed here in terms of the streetograph’s relationship to that hegemonic visual rule whose basic traits are also clarified. Developing an understanding of this relationship, the article thus addresses the following questions: What kind of resistance can streetographs provide to the kind of optics that governs the modern urban space? Can streetographs evoke an alternative kind of spectatorship that disrupts the sovereign’s imagination? And, more specifically, in an epoch in which streetographs are regularly absorbed into capitalist aesthetics—advertising, cinema, social media—how can they allow us to rethink the possibility of resisting the measure of a global capitalist visual system? (shrink)
The main objective of my article is to investigate the ways in which contemporary Anglophone drama and theatre actively employ diegetic and narrative forms, setting them in conflict with the mimetic action. The mode of telling seems to be at odds with the conviction not only about the mimetic nature of performance and theatre but also about the growing visuality of contemporary theatre. Many contemporary performances and dramatic texts expose the tensions between the reduction of visual representations and the (...) expansion of the narrative space. This space offers various possibilities of exploring the distance between the performers and spectators, tensions between narrative time and place and the present time of performance, the real and the imagined/inauthentic/fake, traumatic memory and imagination. The active foregrounding of the diegetic elements of performance will be exemplified with reference to several contemporary plays and performances: my focus will be on the uses of epic forms in what can be called post-epic theatre, illustrated by Kieran Hurley’s Rantin ; the foregrounding of the diegetic and the undecidability of the fictional and the real, instantiated by Forced Entertainment’s performances and Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman ; and the narrative density and traumatic aporia of Pornography by Simon Stephens. (shrink)