Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Helliwell, Paul. "Crisis in the Visual System." MUTE MAGAZINE (May 2008).

The god Janus has two faces each looking in opposite directions, he looks at origins and ends, past and future, cause and effect, and for both Adorno and Rancière he makes the connection between art and something ‘forbidden’, whether commerce or politics.[2] Janus is fortunate in having two pairs of eyes – for it means he could look at the ‘two faces or a vase’ visual paradox or Die Fliegenden Blätter (the drawing of a rabbit that looked at another way becomes a duck) and see both at the same time but, E.H. Gombrich argues in his Art and Illusion, we cannot. There are no perceptions without theories first – and perceptually we cannot hold two theories at the same time. We’ve only got one pair of eyes. On the other hand Anton Ehrenzweig holds (in The Hidden Order of Art), that our readings of art are always ‘polyphonic’ – we are always shifting our attention between details and to the totality. Indeed, according to Rancière collage/ montage, creating relationships between things, images, image-sentences, has become the key artistic strategy – and more, this relation – these metaphors of visibility – are the means by which aesthetics and politics can themselves be thought in common again. Rancière’s supporters argue his is the radical programme of May '68 alive and still with us, something that can leapfrog the diminishing returns of the intervening 40 years of the new left and theory and put us once again in that blissful dawn. All theories, suggests Gaston Bachelard, render some things visible (that are first hidden), but conversely, they also render some things, questions important to the previous regime, hidden (invisible). Rancière seeks to reveal the ‘impossibilities and prohibitions . . . lodged at the very heart of thought that considers itself radical’ – but what are the ‘impossibilities and prohibitions’ of Rancière’s own thought? . . . Read the rest here: http://www.metamute.org/en/Crisis-In-The-Visual-System.

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