domingo, janeiro 05, 2014

pictorial blindness

Mr. Neville: ...the sound of you was in the drawing, you were playing the spinet;
Mrs. Talmann: I thought, Mr. Neville that we had discussed the pictorial equivalence of noise without conclusion...

For Barthes, the screen becomes the all-encompassing concept which covers the functioning of even non-visual representation (literature), although he does make an appeal to a particular visual model of linear perspective. At any rate, his concept encompasses all types of representational apparatuses I have discussed: painting, film, television, radar and computer display. In each of these, reality is cut by the rectangle of a screen: "a pure cut-out segment with clearly defined
edges, irreversible and incorruptible; everything that surrounds it is banished into nothingness, remains unnamed, while everything that it admits within its field is promoted into essence, into light, into view." This act of cutting reality into a sign and nothingness simultaneously doubles the viewing subject who now exists in two spaces: the familiar physical space of his/her real body and the virtual space of an image within the screen. This split comes to the surface with VR, but it already exists with painting and other dioptric arts.
What is the price the subject pays for the mastery of the world, focused and unified by the screen?
The Draughtsman's Contrast, a 1981 film by Peter Greenway, concerns an architectural draftsman hired to produce a set of drawings of a country house. The draughtsman employs a simple drawing tool consisting of a square grid. Throughout the film, we repeatedly see the draughtsman's face through the grid which looks like the prison bars. It is as if the subject who attempts to catch the world, to immobilize it, to fix it within the representational apparatus (here, perspectival drawing), is trapped by this apparatus himself. The subject is imprisoned.
I take this image as a metaphor for what appears to be a general tendency of the Western screen-based representational apparatus. In this tradition, the body must be fixed in space if the viewer is to see the image at all.

in Lev Manovich - The Language of New Media (The Screen and The Body)

Mrs. Talmann: Mr Neville I have grown to believe that a really intelligent man makes an indifferent painter. For painting requires a certain blindness, a partial refusal to be aware of all the options. An intelligent man will know more about what he's drawing than he will see... And in the space between knowing and seeing he will become constrained, unable to pursue an idea strongly...

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