Category Archives: Research projects

Art and the Image: Insights from Merleau-Ponty and the Phenomenological Tradition

What is an image? What does an artist do when she creates one? Images are of things. However, there are different ways for one thing to be of another. Names, for example, are of their bearers. But images don’t seem to be of things in the same way that names are. Images are likenesses of their objects. Yet not just any likeness of an object will count as an image. An accidental likeness, such as a crack in the rock that resembles a crow, is not an image. Neither is an image an object that is qualitatively identical to another – a stamp bearing the Queen’s head is identical with another such stamp, but this does not make one an image of the other. Images instead translate their objects into different media (a portrait of the Queen translates this flesh and blood person into canvas and paint). An understanding of images requires a grasp of what it is for one object to translate another, and what is involved in this process of translation. This workshop takes Merleau-Ponty’s work on the image as the starting-point from which to explore these ideas.

Location: University of Nottingham (main campus)
Highfield House, room A11

Date and time: Wednesday 23rd October, 1—4.30pm

1—1.45 ‘Image: for the Eye and in Mind’ Komarine Romdenh-Romluc (Philosophy)

1.45—2.30 ‘Witness the Gift of Seeing’ Derek Hampson (Artist)

2.30—3 Break

3—3.45 ‘Mind the Gap: Architecture and the Image’ Jonathan Hale (Architecture)

3.45—4.30 ‘Living and Breathing the World’ Aimie Purser (Sociology)

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The Phenomenology of the Image

This is a joint research project between the Nottingham Sense of Space Group, and the School of Fine Arts, UCA. It goes without saying that the image is central to many forms of art. Yet the nature of the image is disputed. It’s tempting to think that an image is a copy or reproduction of a thing. However, in Eye and Mind, Merleau-Ponty offers a compelling critique of this way of thinking, and offers an alternative account of the image, encapsulated by his mysterious claim that an image is ‘the inside of the outside, and the outside of the inside’. The Phenomenology of the Image research project brings together theorists interested in the work of Merleau-Ponty with artists working in different media to explore the implications of his view for art practice.

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