May 23rd, 2015
I've been (re)reading Merleau-Ponty on perception, especially the artist's perception. Following are some quotes (from "Cezanne's Doubt" and from "Eye and Mind")"
"The artist is the one who arrests the spectacle in which most men take part without really seeing it and who makes it visible to the most 'human' among them . . . The painter recaptures and converts into visible objects what would, without him, remain walled up in the separate life of each consciousness: the vibration of appearances which is the cradle of things."
" painting . . . gives visible existence to what profane vision believes to be invisible . . . This philosophy . . . is what animates the painter . . . in that instant when his vision becomes gesture . . "
I think it fair to say that what he says about painting could be said of photography too, at least of some photography (he would disagree). And I am reminded of a seminar I once took part in where we spent several weekly sessions on one sentence in Merleau-Ponty's book. In exasperation, one participant (who couldn't understand the passage) said, well, I didn't know it took conversion to understand it. At the time, I (and several other participants--it was a seminar full of tension) were somewhat defensive (and quietly, I suppose, derisive). Now I wish I had said: Exactly!! You have to see the world differently to understand and that does take conversion.
All of this is another way of understanding what I try to do in my own photographic work. Notice how the colored image above "reveals" in a different way what is shown in another way in the black and white image next to it.
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