n De Arte - Can you see what I mean? An exploration of the limits of vision in anti-ocularcentric contemporary art : research




A great deal of research in visual culture prioritises sight as the human faculty greatly in need of analysis in order to expose the ways in which seeing is constructed in and through culture. This article teases apart the reasons why seeing has enjoyed such prominence in Western science, philosophy, art history and visual culture studies. The invention of linear perspective in painting, the scientific equation of seeing and knowing, and the increasing development of optical instrumentation to enhance visual ability, have served to bolster not only an over-reliance on sight in understanding the relationship between the spectator and the world, but have also positioned the spectator as ideally distanced from what is seen. By contrast, phenomenologically driven interpretations of subjectivity subvert Cartesian notions of detached subjectivity. Two artworks that call for a re-conceptualisation of viewing as connection between perceiver and perceived are investigated by means of a Merleau-Pontian strategy. These works are analysed as examples of anti-ocularcentric ideas that both subvert the hegemony of sight and negate the detached position of a spectator. By emphasising the interconnectedness of spectator and art, the whole body as source of understanding is reinstated.


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