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Questions on the Merleau-Ponty Reading

I received the following email from Nicky concerning Friday’s reading of Merleau-Ponty which she was unable to attend, any feed back/other comments, from those present?

Eye and Mind

I found this piece of writing difficult to understand as Ponty wove his argument around the inconsistencies of Cartesian models of perception and thinking to explain the operation and significance of painting.  The Chapter from ‘The world of Perception’ was very helpful in its presentation of a more condensed and clear statement.

His theories about the metaphysical significance of painting are based on his concepts of the nature of perception—as the ‘dehiscence of Being’    ‘whereby the visible makes present a certain absence, its rear side, its inside, its past’  So painting is the attempt to express or make visible anew ways in which the visible world forms itself to our eyes.  Thus painting may convey the perception of the outward appearance of ‘things’—in a manner that is independent of assumptions.  Like the experience of seeing, the direct perceptual experience of things or paintings is of great value, distinct and separate from a process of analysis.

In Ponty’s discussion about perception he seems to be so preoccupied countering the Cartesian model that the roles of memory, the imagination and intellectual deduction in painting appear to be dismissed.  Certainly modes of perception are the conduits along which experiences enter our minds, but once inside instead of being absorbed on a blank slate they are interpreted, thought and felt about and compared to previous personal experiences and anecdotal ones of others.  I think this happens in the process of painting to, rather than the painter’s hand operating simply a conductor ‘which reaches the support and engulfs it.’

The main area that I would have liked to hear people discuss is that of the nearly exclusive linkage that Ponty forms between painting and perception.  I certainly don’t claim to have a complete grasp on understanding his ideas, but this aspect rests uncomfortably within me.  What do the others think?


May 30, 2009 Posted by | Reading 3, reading group | , | 3 Comments

Postgrad intensive- week of May 27-29 2009

Thinking ahead to the next intensive week, I’d like to get a sense of how you all would like to do things this time around. Me feeling is these weeks are a chance for everyone to touch base and have a look at work in progress, raise discussion about the programme, give us feedback etc as well as the scheduled Reading group etc. We do need to plan venues for any work-in-progress presentations- I’m assuming for those whose studios are in town that we can look at actual work, but for those itinerants(!) it might be still a matter of showing images on screen.

We can use the Drawing Room and upstairs foyer spaces to hang work for discussion, and in some cases it might be viable to have a session in your studio- if it is large enough to fit the group, plus a few honours people who like to come along sometimes. Also, how long do each of you want for this kind of session?- please be mindful of timing as I think we need to be much stricter about staying on schedule this time- but I think that will be much easier now we have had that preliminary intro to everyone.

Maybe I’ll get Leah Bullen to send out a proposed schedule of times for WIP presentations and you can choose a time which suits. I assume we will have reading groups on the Friday usual time.

Are there any suggestions as to other things you might do that week- eg. social stuff, discussion, meetings  or maybe screenings of interesting material-( dvds) on artists or things related to your research ??? Maybe we need time for you to meet in smaller groups or one-on-one for more focussed discussion in your studios?  We’d like the programme to be driven by your interests and preferences so please let us know what you think will work most effectively to make the programme as useful to you as possible. Anyway- give all this some thought and get back to me with your ideas….thanks, Ruth

May 2, 2009 Posted by | Postgrad intensive | , , , | 12 Comments