Insights from the metaphorical dimension of making
La Sapienza University of Rome
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This paper argues that working with art materials can generate novelty through metaphor, and that these metaphors can provide new epistemological resources for visual arts research. In visual sociology, Gauntlett demonstrates that working with art materials enables a freedom of construction and formation that helps the makers to produce objects that embody novel, insightful metaphors about their lives. I go beyond the sociological study by (a) showing how the generative aspect of making can be attributed to the metaphorical nature of material, and (b) developing themes of ‘collision’ and ‘demand’ from Max Black’s and Paul Ricoeur’s theories of metaphor to illuminate the process whereby the manipulation of material in art produces novelty. Material can be metaphorical in four ways: (1) material cannot be described without reference to a perceiver; (2) material, as something that is manipulated in art, has to be considered in relation to the other materials that it will be acting upon or with; (3) in handling the material, the handler is also, if not equally, acted upon; and (4) in representational art, the manipulation of materials creates particular effects that call for description in terms drawn from the represented subject. These operate through collision and demand to suggest lines of enquiry for visual arts research, illustrated with reference to Vija Celmins’s charcoal drawing Night Sky #19 (1998). The benefit to visual arts research is that material is shown to be an independent source of epistemic enquiry, beyond the dominant conceptions of material as a vehicle for self-expression and the means to achieve certain kinds of effect.
Cazeaux C.(2015)'Insights from the metaphorical nature of making', Lo Sguardo, 17 (1), pp. 373-391.
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