Art research.

Dr. Catherine Lord (Media Studies, University of Amsterdam).
Abstract: In What Do Pictures Want: the Lives and Loves of Images (2005), W.J.T. Mitchell treads the tightrope between mythical and religious perception of images as living agents and their objectification as symptoms and signs of culture. He calls for a “critical idolatry” or “secular divination” which implicitly re-frames the traditional role of the academic closer to that of a divining artist. In a different vein, David Bordwell in Making Meaning (1989) treads another shifting and self-reforming boundary – that between the provisional terms of “critical” and “creative,” “analysis” and “imagination.” While Bordwell steers away from allowing critical discourse to be a fine art per se, he slips many times, unapologetically, into terming criticism an art form or a craft of aesthetic dimensions. For him, artists and scholars share the same cognitive currencies. In my talk, I will take these debates into the realm of what is loosely termed “art research” or “practice research.” These terms cover the practices of doing artistic work as a “replacement” for academic work. Is this an issue of “replacement” or “tuning [the] idols” (Mitchell’s phrase re-assigned from Nietzsche’s phrase from Twilight of the Idols [1889])? Or is this a serious matter of making critical discourse more poetic and narrative? In my talk I will survey this matter and do a close reading of samples of both Mitchell and Bordwell, not just through a critical appraisal, but through some poetic narratives of my own.
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