Transvisuality: On Visual Mattering

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapportBidrag til bog/antologiForskningfagfællebedømt

As we know from the idiom,’a picture is worth a thousand words’. But what does that mean? What does it mean that the picture, allegedly by it’s visual nature, can be worth ’more’? And more than ’words’? This conundrum has been a driving force in the approach to the visual since the beginning of depiction, it is fair to argue. Fascination with the visual has gone along with hesitation. The visual can evoke something it appears, but this also leads to scepticism as to what is evoked …
A main issue has been the problem of intelligibility. How to understand what is evoked, how to rely on what can be evoked: the theme of ’aliquid statpro aliquo’ [something stands for something else], for instance in painterly depiction, reinforced by a long association between imagery and the handicraft of painting, from Botticelli’s Venus to Francis Bacon’s triptychs; or, in a different direction, in skepticism of depiction, reinforced over centuries by iconoclasm, from Plato’s cave allegory in The Republic to Martin Heidegger’s The Age of the World Picture.
The idea of transvisuality seeks to evolve a new approach to the visual beyond the issue of ’aliquid statpro aliquo’. It attempts to develop a practice based theory of visual articulation, focusing the transience which comes to the fore when saying ’a picture is worth a thousand words’.
The idea of transvisuality approach the visual as productive, in the sense that it ads to the world. The visual is not predominantly an issue of ’aliquid statpro aliquo’, but a conveyer of something different, in that sense creative by it own means. Something that cannot really be grasped if we keep to the mutual ’grapling’ (Gilles Deleuze) of the visible and the sayable which informs our idiom, the visible to be understood by the sayable, in words …
Plato’s cave allegory is a case in point. This parable is at the origins of ’aliquid statpro aliquo’ and has continued to impact our assertions to the present day. Prisoners are chained in the depth of a cave, and in this position they are forced to observe shadows, appearing from an apparatus that creates blurred pictures on the wall in front of them by holding puppets before a fire. The pictures are thus illusions of something more real, and the set up – the depiction machinery – is imparted with manipulation, proffering a perpetual crisis of intellegibility. In Plato’s description to ascend into the light of truth, in subsequent thought, for instance by entering the visual into words, into a ’word of creation’ …
But Plato’s cave is also a doable bringing about of the visual which, a model for visualizing as practice. It follows from the flux of ’what is happening’ in the cave: the materiality of the situation we may say, from what Gilles Deleuze in his critique of Plato’s simulacrum called ’subtle, fluid and teneous elements’.
The idea of transvisuality is interested in such elements: the visual as ’something producing results beyond itself, something that has ’the quality or state of being transient’. Transience must be understood in terms of ’acting other’, as we see in the cave allegory, just as much as ’representing other’, the mainstay of the Western approach to the visual, caught in in the determinism of Platonean puppetry.
The idea of transvisuality asserts to the visual a new transient matter, deeply committed to practices which create and recreate the world, by ’subtle, fluid and teneous elements’; what Cornelius Castoriadis terms, ’emergence, continued creation, incompletion […] that is never filled out but rather transforms itself into another incompletion.’ By doing so it suggest as well an answer to the widespread founding paradox of visual culture studies, that ’our culture (is) increasingly a visual one’ without suggesting why it can be so.
TitelLinguagens Visuais : Literatura. Artes. Cultura
RedaktørerKarl Erik Schøllhammer, Heidrun Krieger Olinto , Danusa Depes Portas
Antal sider25
UdgivelsesstedRio de Janeiro
ForlagEditora PUC-Rio, Edicões Loyola og IUPERJ
ISBN (Trykt)978-85-8006-271-7
StatusUdgivet - 2019

Bibliografisk note

Artikelbidrag på engelsk. Publikation på portugisisk.

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