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Negotiating Painting's Two Perspectives: a Role for the Imagination

Wilder, Ken (2007) Negotiating Painting's Two Perspectives: a Role for the Imagination. Image & Narrative . ISSN 1780678X [Historical and Philosophical studies > History of Art
Historical and Philosophical studies > Philosophy]
Creators:Wilder, Ken

This 4000 word essay was selected for a special issue of 'Image & Narrative' (Issue 18, September 2007), on 'Thinking Pictures', guest edited by Hanneke Grootenboer, author of 'The Rhetoric of Perspective' (University of Chicago Press, 2005). 'Image & Narrative' is a peer-reviewed e-journal on visual narratology, with essays reviewed by at least two members of the editorial board.

The essay addresses contemporary arguments on spectatorship within the philosophy of art. It examines different ways by which internal and external spectators negotiate painting's two perspectives: the absent scene represented by the picture's marked surface and the external point of view of a beholder, standing in real space.

The essay argues that if the imaginative engagement provided by an internal spectator (see Wollheim) renders the picture plane transparent, so that we might enter the virtual space of the painting, then in paintings integrated into their architectural contexts the surface plays a semantic role in both connecting and separating different realms. If the picture surface disappears for the internal spectator, then for works integrated into their architectural settings its status is heightened and negated as a threshold separating spatiotemporal realms.

The essay challenges semiotic accounts of painting. While linguistic derived semiotic accounts negate a spatial engagement, in Hubert Damisch's proposal that painting is a form of thinking, structure emerges from within the loop of the perspective paradigm. The essay argues, however, that if certain paintings 'think', they do so only in the sense that thought permeates a phenomenological whole where perception and imagination merge.

The essay is a development of 'A spatiality of situation', published by Art In-sight, Filmwaves magazine (no. 31, 2006), guest edited with Adam Kossoff. A related paper, 'Levels of Reality', was given at the 'Real Things: matter, materiality, representation' conference at the University of York, 5-8 July 2007.

Official Website:http://www.imageandnarrative.be
Type of Research:Article
Additional Information (Publicly available):

My research is fine art based, but directly addresses architectural issues. I make gallery installations which often combine object and video projection. Currently I am undertaking a Ph.D. at Chelsea. This starts from a consideration of Richard Wollheim's theory of artistic expression, which identifies projection as central to 'correspondence' - a relation between an artefact and an emotion which the artwork invokes by virtue of how it looks. Yet the theory lacks specificity as to how 'projective properties' attach to artworks, as properties which reside in the works themselves rather than the projector.
I will address this question of attachment using artworks that employ 'space' as a conduit for the projection of emotions. My proposal argues that some key works of Renaissance art depart from Panofsky's categorisation of perspective as homogeneous space in order to create deliberately 'non-mathematical' passages within an otherwise 'rationally' constructed pictorial space. These spatial displacements channel the viewer's projection to an inviolable space within the work, a space subject to temporal anamorphosis.
Can such a concept of a projective space be extended beyond painting? And if so, can it operate with any kind of equivalence? These questions are tested against works that combine strategies of location and displacement by artists associated with 'conceptual art' (Smithson, Nauman and Asher), and new/existing examples of my own practice as an installation artist, a practice which employs the 'geometry' of projection in ways that give rise to displacements in the encounter between a spectator and an artwork

Publisher/Broadcaster/Company:Image & Narrative
Your affiliations with UAL:Colleges > Chelsea College of Art and Design
Date:01 September 2007
Related Websites:http://www.chelsea.arts.ac.uk/testresearch09/48189.htm
ID Code:793
Deposited On:07 Dec 2009 12:56
Last Modified:11 Jul 2014 15:26
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