Elective at semester(s) 6, 8, ECTS: 3
Thequestion“whatisimage” isaddressedtousinanimperativeway,atahistoricaltimewhentraditionalphilosophical“questions” arenotconsideredanymoreaslanguageproblemsandcognitivetheoretic questions, but as optical quizzes.Hans Jonas, the philosopher referred to the advent of this new homo pictor in 1961, while in the same year Henri Lefebvre led the way to new conceptualizations of the “image as action”. Particularly, through the dealing of phenomenology with modern and contemporary art, the time has come for the era of the so-called “ optical turn” in philosophical thought («pictorial», «imagic», «iconic» or «visualistic turn») and in the introduction of new disciplines (visual studies, Bildwissenschaft), beyond the history of art.
Ignoring the discourses on the representational ability and validity of the image, the course advocates that images don’t reflect or just represent social experience, but have operational power, forming mechanisms of subjectification.“Modernmanexistsonlyaslongashe/she canbecomeanimage” giving rise to socially predefined and historically configured “visualization arrangements” or optical arrangements (visual dispositif) – a term introduced into theory by Foucault, Deleuze and Agamben. Optical arrangement comprises the basic research category which is formed by verbal theories (discursive), pictorial theories (iconic) and operational theories (operative). What is the transhistoricalreferencetotheconceptofsubjectasitisdefinedbythecriticalnegotiation and continuous questioning of what is an “image”? What is the relationship of visualization arrangements with society as well as with visual regimes reproduced through it? And how is the image a reflection space for contemporary culture in general?
At the same time, the course explores the philosophical positions which allowed such questioning of the supremacy of the society of the spectacle as a prevalent cognitive-theoretic example, either through the demolition of the “transcending” character of perspective representation, the recovery of the corporeity of a mental subject, the precedence of the perceived consciousness versus the object or the reevaluation of time in favour of space. (Martin Jay)
The course is divided into the following modules: perspective as a symbolic form (Ernst Cassirer, Erwin Panofsky), pictorial representation as a special case of “denotation” (Nelson Goodman), the rhetoric of the image (iconology by W.J.T. Mitchell), optical metaphors as cognitive instruments (“metaphorology” by Hans Blumenberg: the cave of Plato – the panoptic prison in Michel Foucault), the “dialectical” image (Walter Benjamin), the image as corporeity (Maurice Merleau-Ponty), the image as mechanism of subjectification (JacquesLacan), cinematic arrangement as image (ChristianMetz), the technical worldly idols and screens (PaulVirilio), the world as simulation [simulacrum] (JeanBaudrillard), the “symptomatic” image (Didi-Huberman), the image as a commission (Sachs-Hombach).
The course explores these views of the world by explaining examples of contemporary optic arrangements such as painting, or technologically produced photographic, cinematic and digital images, and other “spatial” images, such as those in artistic installations, architecture, theatre, dance, artistic activity as well as “pictographs – images” of a music sheet or a poetic text.
The course is organized along: a) modules of lectures and b) oral presentations by the students of selected excerpts from the overall work of important representatives of the theory, c) a final exercise in the collection and recording of visual information and its evaluation based on the theoretic framework of the course. The objective of the course is for the student to show that he/she has understood the basicnotions which have been presented throughout the course, that he/she can detect and interpret accordingly correct examples as well as that he/she has developed the capacity for critical analysis and understanding of texts through an oral group presentation and a project.
Theexcerptsareselectedonthebasisofhoweachonecomprisesaspecial case analysis which clearly explains each methodological approach. The course also offers specialised information and scientific positionscreatingfortheparticipantsthecognitiveframe for the preparation for the osmosis of architectural practice with the fine arts and other relevant human sciences via an “optical turn” as well as their active involvement, on a practical level, in the broader social field, factors which can possibly affect the quality of architectural conception. The course contributes to acquiring knowledge and abilities following the b, c, e, categories of the European directive.