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[Xmca-l] Re: discussing "Posing the question"

I think I'd like to try to tie the discussion of Rolf Steier's intriguing
article to a book we published in January here in Korea, a book which is
also related to the discussion of Vygotsky, the Imagination, and Creativity.

 Since we are discussing posing and artworks, let me provide the cover of
our book, a painting by the Russian children's portraitist Nikolai


The book contains three very different works by Vygotsky on creativity and
imagination, which we translated into Korean: his "popular science" account
("Imagination and Creativity in the Child", which was published in JREEP in
2004), "Imagination and Creativity in Adolescence", which was published in
"Pedology of the Adolescent" and which can be found in the Vygotsky Reader
(Blackwell, 1994) and "Imagination and its Development in Childhood", part
of which appears in Volume One of the English Collected Works.

But the cover painting really says it all in gesture: Vygotsky asks--and
answers--the question of why one form of creativity after another is
exhausted, when the child's imagination is still developing vigorously. The
child poses. Then, at a certain point, the child becomes disillusioned with
mere posing and becomes interested in drawing. The child draws. Then, at a
certain point (usually right when the child appears to be making real
progress), the child becomes disillusioned with drawing and takes up
writing. The child writes. Then, at a certain point (usually, as captured
by Bogdanov-Belsky, right when the child begins to learn how to write
compositions in school) the child becomes disillusioned. The now powerless
and disillusioned daydream, which we extravagantly call "imagination", is
all that is left.

I liked the article. I loved the idea that recreating a painting as a
"tableau vivant" includes both an external plane (dialogue) and and
internal one (narrative). I thought the ability of the author to recover a
kind of underlying structure of pose, comparison, focus, and adjustment
from the careful analysis of two incidents was actually very convincing and
shows the power of a theoretically informed analysis over a statistically
equipped but merely empirical one. I also find this underlying structure
far more helpful than the usual vague talk about extra-corporeal artistic
experience and reflection that we get, even in the work of Bakhtin.

But I confess, I found the idea that children spend their days in museums
recreating paintings with their bodies for a Flickr account a little
depressing. I wonder if there is any evidence that the evident
understanding that emerges leads to any actual creativity or even any
posing outside the museum. Perhaps, if it doesn't, that is a good thing:
Munch, in addition to being a smoker, was a notorious depressive.

Some specific questions:

a) On p. 149, the author says that "meaning is embedded in the word".
Doesn't this imply a conduit metaphor? Isn't it more likely--on the basis
of the author's own argument--that the way in which words carry cultural
meaning is by forcing the hearer to re-enact the meaning making itself?

b) On p. 151, the author appears to confuse the concept of metaphor with
Lakoff and Johnson's "conceptual metaphor". Also, I can't see how children
can develop concepts from metaphors, because it seems to me that in order
to have a metaphor you need a concept first.

c) On p. 152: if we assume that visitor gestures are either iconic or
deictic, doesn't that suggest that artwork has no ideal content at all?

d) On p. 152, the bottom: isn't "depiction" more of a NARRATIVE stance,
while mimesis is a more DIALOGIC one because it places us inside the
artwork? Just a thought.

I remember taking part in an art exhibition in my wife's hometown of Xi'an
in China twenty years ago where we left a huge canvas by the exit and
invited all the viewers to try to paint something. It was at a big
university and some of engineering students tried gamely, until the art
students came along and painted everything black. Interestingly, though,
neither the engineering students nor the art students tried to reproduce
any of the artworks--they were more interested in looking out the window
than in looking back at the exhibition.

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 23 May 2014 01:09, Vadeboncoeur, Jennifer <j.vadeboncoeur@ubc.ca> wrote:

> Dear XMCA,
> Rolf Steier is now on XMCA, and his article "Posing the question" is open
> on the T and F website:
> http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/.U3zs4Sjsq24
> Just click on the green button to the right side of the article.
> There is loads to talk about, and one question that comes to mind is in
> relation to the museum installation as a design experiment. In what sense
> is it a design experiment? What does it make visible? How is learning
> shaped by access to this experience in a museum?
> More questions?
> Best - jen