Sunday, December 13, 2009

"...into another world"

Euan Uglow, Title Unkown, ca. 1995, oil on canvas.

"I get a visual experience, and I could say that will be the concept of a painting, but that doesn't mean it's going to be true to life. I may want to be able to say something about that visual idea, but it wouldn't be 'true to life'. It has to be transferred to another world. Well, I think so."
-Euan Uglow (1932-2001), Interview with Martin Gayford, April 1997
published in Modern Painters, Spring 2001

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Different Modes.

Richard Artschwanger, Table and Chair, 1965


...The visual is a mode of knowing which is different from spoken and, especially, written language. Verbal analyses are not always possible and when they are, more often than not, destructive of the visual mode they propose to illuminate."
-Except from Richard Artschwanger's note books, from Richard Artschwanger, Up and Across. (c) 2001 Neues Museum, N├╝rnberg

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Physical Fact vs. Psychological Effect (part 2)

Graph illustrating different tapers in arithmetic, and geometric progressions.
See previous post for a comparative chart

In the field of Electronic engineering, in audio amplification circuits, engineers use potentiometers (the things behind the volume knob) that have an "geometric", or what is known as an "audio" taper to them. This is due to the fact that the human ear does not perceive volume increase in a straight line- like the Weber-Fechner law suggests, there is a disconnect between what our mind actually perceives and a system for understanding it.

Physical Fact vs. Psychological Effect (part 1)

Albers, Josef. Interaction Of Color: Revised and Expanded Edition. Yale University Press, (c) 1963, 2006

Josef Albers wrote in his legendary book "Interaction of Color" the Weber-Fechner Law: "The visual perception of an arithmetical progression depends upon a physical geometric progression"

that being a little dense- what he getting at here?
to put it poetically, "sometimes you must exaggerate the truth to tell the truth"

Its an interesting point- here is empirically derived information describing the discrepancies between an physical representation (an objective device, or visual) and a psychological (or visceral) response.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Celebrate the feeling unknown

Jeff Wall, Dead Troops Talk, (C) 1992, the artist.

Jeff Wall, The Destroyed Room, transparency in lightbox, (c) 1978, the artist.

"The beauty of an image derives in part from the fact we never know exactly what we are feeling when we look at it"

 I first encountered Wall's Dead Troops Talk,  probably around 9 years of age. At the time I can remember being awestruck by the scale of the piece, for a photograph. It's scale and detail does something to the image it makes it huge like a movie screen, but also fantastic by the subject matter in both its gore and humor. So in one image we're slammed with this cinematic quality, that really demands us, the viewer to really sort out some serious questions. By virtue of the medium we feel like we're looking at a real event, a larger than life National Geographic image. Its authenticity is a farce of course, by the soldiers calmly relaxing as if the camera had stopped rolling, and the director had yelled cut. 

How do these images assault our expectations for photographs?  

How do they reward our minds curiosity and necessity for constructing narratives and logic/order to phenomena?

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Epic of Strangeness

Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan, Evidence, 50 found photographs, 1977

In the Early 1970's armed with a government grant , San Francisco artists Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan created the series called Evidence. Or rather, they found it and compiled it. They, long with their government grant letter of introduction sifted through some 40,000 images at various government agencies at both federal and national levels. These images were originally gathered as a series of images for evidence of crimes, experiments and government research. From this massive pile, Sultan and Mandel selected 50, and exhibited them in 1977 in an exhibition called Evidence.

These images, when stripped of their original context, take on strangeness unparalleled. These seem to constitute the visual event, one where we that audience are placed into a mire of confusion and bewilderment, that our minds must find new structures to make sense of them, and this is the experience of the visual event.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rudolf Arnheim

above: Rudolf Arnheim Photograph by John Gay, (c) National Portrait Gallery, London

in the 1950's Rudolf Arnheim wrote in his landmark book Art and Visual perception:

"Art may seem to be in danger of being drowned by talk. Rarely are presented with a new specimen of what we are willing to accept as genuine art. Yet we are overwhelmed by a flood of books, articles, dissertations, speeches, lectures, guides [my emphasis]...

...we feel tempted to assume that art is unsure in our time because we think and talk to much about it...

..We are neglecting the gift of comprehending things by what our senses tell about them. Concept is split from percept, and thought moves among abstractions. Our eyes are being reduced to instruments by which to measure and identify..."

How do our eyes let us wander, imagine, and play in a visceral way? 

Arnheim seems to be really pushing the point that our minds to a degree have already been made up when we look at something, we've been told what to feel, and we're losing (remember this is the 1950's!) our ability to let our own perceptions guide our cognitive creation in meaning.

Perhaps this is a psychological symptom of  proto-post-modernism*; and interrelationships  of  various media  simultaneously originating from and influencing the culture and society at large?

*did i really just type that word?