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A Fine Line: Compelling Visuality notes

Some notes and quotes from “Art History After Aesthetics,” opening essay in Compelling Visuality, 2003, ed. Claire Farago and Robert Zwijnenberg

p. vii “We invited our contributors to write about what they actually see, touch, and experience when confronted with a historical work of art.” —Tamarin didn’t touch Martin’s work, and you can’t touch Tamarin’s work. (Maybe why I was compelled to draw in response? Anyway, it’s important.)

p. viii slippage of term “reality” relates somehow to Tamarin’s slippage between surfaces and mediums—this surface slippage could be a metaphor for the project of how to look at a historical work of art (i.e. Martin’s 1961 grid works). A Fine Line basically acts out ways of looking at a line, as if it is Martin’s line?

“The word ‘reality’ used without further explanation ignores epistemological slippages that occur between the seams of various disciplinary formations and across languages.”

p. ix Realität vs Wirklichkeit = perception vs material sensation

p. x “What happens when the presence of a given work of art in a given contemporary viewer’s experience is theorized as part of a historical interpretation? That is, what happens if instead of denying or discounting the materiality of the work, we take our experience of it explicitly into account? Our response to a given painting, for example, is directed by who and what we are, what we know, and we situate ourselves in society… but also—and not least—by its significance or value to us, contemporary beholders.”

p. xi “We treat description of an aesthetic experience as an excursus that informs us about the author and adds color to his or her text,” but what if we acknowledge “the formative role of personal experience” in interpretation and analysis.

“The meaning of a work of art can only be known in a confrontation with a beholder who is “enthusiastic” in the ancient Greek sense of the word: in a moment of enthusiasm, we lower our defences, allowing the work to touch or even overwhelm us.”

p. xii “The most important consequence of acknowledging our contingent position as viewing subjects… is that the interpretation of a work of art, which is by definition a concrete, individual object, requires a mathesis particularis.”

The following quotes brought to mind me writing about T’s work, and T’s camera lens:

p. xiii “How the historian establishes distance (or difference of any kind) from his or her object of study is one of the leading threads running through this volume. We encourage our readers to ask how this distance or difference then operates in the text, and how the difference established by the text constitutes subjects who see and act in the world.”

p. xiv “By ‘performing’ their roles as beholders, the authors construct the context of the work in relation to their own subject positions. The voice of the interpreter is explicitly located, rather than hovering nebulously outside of the framework of an interpretation.”

p. xv “An experiment (or series of experiments)”