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


       Thanks for giving me an opportunity to think more about mimesis. Some rambling follows:

     Gebauer and Wulf in Memesis (around p315 there is a summary of much of what I am paraphrasing/interpreting) suggest that mimesis concerns the making  [I think here about your conversation with Huw about 'discovery' and 'making'] of symbolic worlds with, for instance, gesture, Such worlds have an existence of their own; i.e. they can be understood from within in their own terms. These symbolic worlds are transformations of a prior world (the world of 'Others') into the world of 'I/we.'  Mimesis is realized, in essence, as a dialogic activity (I don't think this necessarily excludes narration, but I could be wrong) taken by participants, a deed or doing. In this frame Mimetic Gesturing is one way of transforming the 'Other'; however depiction (as distinct from Mimetic Gesturing) seems another.

    So, perhaps (and this is complete speculation) the girls have purposively intertwined their depiction of the body of the figure in the work with its title to produce/make, in their eyes, a 'standalone' dialogical event (or symbolic world). Perhaps, the gesturing is for the self and/or friend (I mean I/we). In any case, in this framing the transformation has its roots in the object of representation and is realized in the gesture and its uptake by the recipient. So your questions below are critical.

    I hope this makes some sort of sense as I am still thinking about mimesis and depiction.



On May 27, 2014, at  4:24 PM, Rolf Steier wrote:

> Hi Ed, 
> Thank you for asking this because I had been reflecting some after sending the previous email and thought this topic might need more discussion. I view mimesis as one form of gestural depiction. Streeck defines Mimetic Gesturing as “the performance of gestures to depict physical acts or behavior” (p 144 of Gesturecraft). 
> I absolutely agree that posing with an artwork can be interpreted as mimesis. Where this becomes more complex (and I think interesting!) - Is when we ask what it is that is being depicted? If we use Episode 1 from the article (Figure 6 on p160) - it might be that the girls are depicting the body of the figure in the work. Another interpretation could be that they are depicting the painting itself (with the implication that they are acknowledging the intentionality of the artist in forming her own depiction). I believe that at some point in this interaction, the girls are implicitly acknowledging the intentionality of the artist because the girl on the left incorporates the title of the work (Four Artists) into her interpretation. I chose to use the term ‘posing gesture’ as a form of gestural depiction that is distinct from mimesis. I think that relationships between the artist, figure, artwork, and visitors are complex and that some aspect of these relationships might be lost if we interpret it only as a gesture “depicting a physical act.” There is also the issue of who the gesture is for (the self, the friend, or both). Perhaps this contradicts my previous email a little, but thank you for asking me to reflect on it again. 
> Ed - what do you think? Maybe there is a broader question here about the object of representation.. what a gesture is of? and who it is for?
> On Tue, May 27, 2014 at 9:15 PM, Ed Wall <ewall@umich.edu> wrote:
> Rolf
>       If you would, could you say more why you think 'depiction' rather than 'mimesis' better captures the dialogic relationship between the participants. An example from your paper would be helpful.
> Ed Wall
> On May 27, 2014, at  8:14 AM, Rolf Steier wrote:
> > Hello David,
> >
> > Thank you for your comments and for sharing your book as well.
> >
> > You noted that you found the idea of young people posing for Flickr a
> > little depressing - and I can certainly understand this. Not to add to this
> > depression, but remember that few young people even visit museums at all
> > outside of school visits! I don’t think that ‘flickr’ was a particularly
> > large motivator in the end. The most surprising finding that led to this
> > study was that visitors “pose” naturally. Many many people when approaching
> > Munch’s “The Scream” would bring their hands to their faces to “scream” as
> > a part of normal museum practice. I think the exciting thing is building
> > off of this natural tendency to create richer engagements and conversations
> > with and about the art- Not to replace interactions with the works with
> > photo taking activities. Although it is also interesting to see what
> > expectations youth bring to these experiences.
> >
> > You also provided a few questions that I wanted to follow up on. You
> > mention a distinction between “mimesis” and “depiction” that I think is
> > really interesting. I actually spent a great deal of time debating the
> > appropriate concept to use to describe these activities and I think both
> > are appropriate and share subtle distinctions. I agree that ‘mimesis’
> > implies a dialogic relationship between the participant and the artwork -
> > but I would also argue that ‘depiction’ better captures the dialogic
> > relationship between the participants. I used the concept of depiction to
> > be consistent with Streeck’s framework.
> >
> > You also mention that assuming gestures are either iconic or deictic
> > suggests that artwork does not have ideal content? Maybe you can elaborate
> > on what you mean by ideal content? I hope that I didn’t give the impression
> > that I feel visitor gestures are limited to these types (A goal of this
> > article was to introduce posing as a unique gestural activity).
> >
> > Thank you!
> >
> >
> > On Tue, May 27, 2014 at 12:18 AM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>wrote:
> >
> >> 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
> >> Bogdanov-Belsky.
> >>
> >> http://www.aladin.co.kr/shop/wproduct.aspx?ISBN=8994445536
> >>
> >> 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
> >>>
> >>