Painting Calligraphy

by Stefan Arteni

On Painting
Otherwhere Otherwise
Painting, Image Likeness
A Wandering Journey
Painting Calligraphy
Painting as Polycontexturality






Sol Invictus Press

ICMS8 [Gestures, forms, and signifying processes in music and
the semiotics of the interrelation of arts], Paris, October 2004.

Notre approche est basee sur la distinction entre presentation et representation, et s’ancre dans la demarche plus large de Niklas Luhmann et la logique des calculs de G. Spencer-Brown, aboutissant aux relations des formes, et peinture, le decouplage de l’enonce [expression] et information, le deploiement du paradoxe de la forme et l’operation de re-entrée, les operations d’observation et leur double hermeneutique - les dimensions Emique et Etique – , la materialite et les contraintes du medium, et les traces de l’outil qui s’integrent a d’autres modalites semiotiques. On introduit ainsi les formants sous-semiotiques - la signature de l’artiste - sous-jacents au probleme des signes, le jeu des distinctions formelles et les agencements perceptifs – visuels, gestuels, tactiles, etc. – qui ne peuvent etre saisi que dans des categories de presentation.

Cette assimilation de l’art a une forme emergentielle amene ainsi l’auteur a comparer ce processus envisage comme enstasis a la demarche du Bouddhisme et du Hesychasme qui permet de s’ouvrir a l’idee de l’absence de fondement [sunyata], l’enaction ouverte a son ancrage corporel, la polysensorialite, le paradoxe de l’autoreference signique et des codes graphiques et iconographiques, la memoire et perception tactile-kinesthesique et l’habilite motrice implicite, mises en action dans l’acte rituel de l’evenement performance qui scande un espace de la forme.


The point of departure will be the distinction presentation/representation in the context of Niklas Luhmann’s investigations and of G. Spencer-Brown’s Laws of Form, thus showing the complementarity of script, envisioned as a medium for the construction of forms, and painting, the uncoupling of utterance and information, the paradox of form and of re-entry,, the operations of observation and their double hermeneutics [the concepts of emic and etic], the material constraints of the medium, and the mark integrated to other semiotic modalities. The subsemiotic marks,
the artist’s signature underlaying the sign, open up the possibility of a gameplay of formal distinctions and of perceptual correlates – visual, gestural, tactile – and may be subsumed and described within the category of presentation.

The assimilation of art to emergence facilitates connecting the painting process, thought of as enstasis, with the vies of Buddhism and Hesychasm, i.e. with the idea of groundlessness [sunyata], with enaction as embodiment, and with polysensoriality. The paradox of the self-reference of signs and of graphic and iconographic codes, the role of tactile-kinesthetic memory and perception as well as implicit knowledge, are crucial to the ludic ritual act of the performance event that creates a form space.

  Written communication consists of the processing of sense in the medium of

Barbara Kastner

The terms vision and word suggest a dynamic semiotic conflict. Niklas Luhmann speaks of script as an effort at the “transposition of speech into an optical medium”, and consequently as a secondary communication medium. Luhmann has shown that it is actually impossible to exactly transpose oral communication in the form of a written text.

Script uncouples utterance and information. Script is testing semiotic borders. Written communication is not constituted as such by writing or reading, but by understanding - J. Hoffmeyer has introduced the concept of semetic interaction (from the Greek semeion = sign, and etos= habit). The beyond of language, its otherness, is the presence of the materiality of marks. Wolfgang Welsch argues that art perception actually consists of plural level and inter-iconic perceptive processes that provide the viewer with culture-specific medially embodied realities - “experience, be it aesthetic or not, is experience under ontic constraint”, remarks Peer F. Bundgaard.

The artist structures pictorial spaces through intervention in the material and semiotic universe. To use Francisco Varela’s terminology, the work is the form space, the virtual space of the artistic performance itself.

It is then, in this context of rich history and exciting possibilities, that one operates on the principle of unfolding a range of concerns that have a bearing on systemic research methodologies. Alexandra Hefner indicates that “for each observer a different guiding distinction results to be the first and relevant one”. Regarding the implicit/explicit knowledge distinction and observer-specific blind spots, Hefner remarks: “An outside observer can make this blind spot [implicit knowledge] visible…but in so doing, any such second-order observation must rely on its own blind spot”. Artists also act as observers of their own participation in the process, and it is in such a context that Jerome McGann may say that artists “construct second-order illusions that expose the functioning presence of the first-order illusions”.

This double hermeneutics, the distinction between inside and outside viewpoints, has been also used under the names emic and etic. An emic perspective may consist also of a plural cultural identity and, given a certain mutational element in every appropriating event, of mappings between systems, neologisms, adapted and reinterpreted ‘outside’ elements. One may postulate a global ‘etic’ dimension but the question is ontological: what is being modelled , what is the role of the observer in modelling, and what intentions guide the observer? Moreover, the emphasis on constructing second-order models, on transferring theories across cultures, theories that may re-enter the very practices they describe thus affecting these practices and becoming more like self-fulfilling prophesies, as well as the effects of subliminal enticement, may result in imposed-etic perspectives or etic bias, and in maladaptive cultural practices. Niklas Luhmann notes that “it is true that the second-order observer, too, is tied to his own blind spot…his a priori, as it were”. The ‘etic’ perspective enables one to position this perspective in relation to other discourses. The fact is that philosophical considerations are always situated in specific settings and may be thus conceptualized as second-order observations.

The point of departure of this paper will be the fundamental distinction presentation/representation thus necessarily establishing the interfaces and overlaps between painting and calligraphy art. There is no culture-free all-seeing observer. No one can escape cultural boundedness. But can one transcend paradigm clashes?

  A work of art is the inscription of layered and selected traces of culture.

Misko Suvakovic

  Theories tend to fall into the trap of making the kind of generalizations they disparage. Such is the contemporary ‘hegemonic’ theory that appears as the ‘Western’ paradigm, especially the theory of the Avant-garde and Neo-avant-garde, a theory supposed to be operative for all. “Art works are replaced with the formulation of open information work”, notes Misko Suvakovic. The rejection of art is combined with a substitution of politics for art. Why should this be so?

In what regards non-Western cultures, Lev Kreft wonders whether they are merely a periphery reflecting the elsewhere centered core. But Barry Smith points out that there is a significant comparative advantage of smaller nations in those fields where native language is of secondary import and where pre-modernism has influenced a broad range of activities. Moreover, one has to question the very concept of politics used in relation to Avant-garde attitudes.

Why then, is this theory so popular in certain circles? Barry Smith suggests that it is much rather the case that “a fashion economy, when once established, manifests a quite remarkable resilience”. In system’s diction, one may use the notion of pathological autopoiesis invented by Stafford Beer. Pathological autopoiesis leads the system to a stationary image of itself, to parasitic self-production.

One will have no choice but to depart from the rather restricted discussion on signification which also needs to address the viability of current concepts. Paraphrasing Bernhard Peorksen, one may say that the presentation reality constructed by the medium of art is the reality that the art medium constructs, that is all. What, then, is the moment of unity of presentation and representation? Terry Marks-Tarlow, Robin Robertson, and Allan Combs indicate that “opposites are all created through a…distinction and thus are inextricably joined through a third, the indicative act that creates them…” There is effectively a recursive frame of reference and thus “each sign becomes the object of another sign…, increasingly complex networks of signs are created that reflect each other like jewels in the Net of Indra…”

    For the sign as form there is in fact no reference…The distinction signifier/signified may be used or not…

Niklas Luhmann

  “The ultimate form of art manifests itself as contingent…Contingency has the remarkable characteristic of being real, and, at the same time, nothingness”, writes Kuki Shuzo.

The Buddhist notion of Coemergent Arising can be connected to systems theory and appears similar to the Western ‘hermeneutic circle’. As Fabio Rambelli points out, Kukai’s esoteric Buddhism seems close to radical constructivism. This brings to mind Francisco Varela’s cognitivism and Buddhism, as well as the metaphor of autopoiesis, which, like that of Ch’an (Zen), is the circle. Milena Dolezelova-Velingerova argues that Ch’an (Zen) favours non-verbal arts, for example “the graphic quality of Chinese and Japanese ideograms which are…processed by the right cerebral hemisphere and which acquire also rhythmically patterned sound, when the poem is read aloud’. The right hemisphere is specialized for encoding global configurations of visuo-spatial information. The Chinese and Japanese writing system mandates elaborative processing - motor or tactilo-knesthetic modalities draw principally upon the right hemisphere. Kimihiro Nakamura and Sid Kouider argue that “graphic constituents of kanji…have separate motor representations which might constitute a basic ‘motor unit’ for writing out a complex graphic form”. At the same time, a visuo-motor or procedural memory based outlook facilitates a polycontextural view of the artistic process. Vadim S. Rotenberg points out that “organization of the polysemantic context by the right hemisphere is based on the mechanism which makes different probabilities subjectively equivalent”. Art is a self-organized creative process that is not aimed at a true image of the real world. Visual art differentiates itself along the lines of a system-specific play with forms. The task of the artist is to come to terms with different artistic operational constructs. For the configuration of marks, the possible mediation by inter- or transcontextural operations leads to pure relationship, a restructuring and concretization in different universalities and types of formalisations.

    Art raises the question whether a trend toward ‘morphogenesis’ might be implied in any operational sequence.

Niklas Luhmann

  Abe Masao places a cross mark on Emptiness or Nothingness just as Heidegger puts a cross mark on Sein. “The void is…a state where there are no distinctions”, writes Edward R. Close. “In Laws of Form, G. Spencer-Brown speculates that an entire universe is created when a region of space is separated from the rest”.

Within certain Buddhist traditions, “the lack of meaning… constitutes in fact…significance, because only meaningless signs can somehow represent emptiness”, notes Fabio Rambelli. Jack Engstrom alludes to form as originating in formlessness, as “a residue of the process of distinction, indication, and unfoldment”. Johanna Drucker and Jerome McGann argue that “these systems of graphic presentation are operational, not merely passive schematic structures…Conventions can be described as elements of a pictographic logic…The basis of pictographic logic is graphic, rather than linguistic”.

Joseph Goguen defines a sign system as a system of distinctions. G. Spencer-Brown’s injunction is strongly visual: the mark as visual operator “draws a distinction” - perceptual, notational, spatial - and an indication of one or the other side of the distinction. Any distinction is contingent. Distinctions function as elements of structuration. The form of the distinction is the form, the unity of the operation that places what it distinguishes, the marked space, against the unmarked space. While making something visible, art makes, simultaneously, something else invisible. And yet, as Louis H. Kauffman admits, “the one mark unifies the sides that it divides”. Paradoxically, by means of a sort of performative apophasis, the mark affirms this unity by severing it.

“The cut or mark”, argues Floyd Merrell, “indicates (indexes) what it is only insofar as it is something other than the possibility of everything else”.

    It is not the ‘what’ but rather the ‘how’ that is of importance.

Steven Toetoesy de Zepetnek

  The work of art exists within the modality of contingency, affirms Niklas Luhmann, and the function of art is to make the contingent visible. Cognitive aesthetics and cognitive semiotics investigate organization and structure in terms of generative actions that construct a pictorial space. The various emergent contingent forms of configuring marks can be viewed as involving the visual mode of semiosis. “Semiotic complexity is organized as a semiotic gestalt”, notes Lucia Santaella. On the other hand, the multiple fractures that constitute the boundaries of semiospheres or the liminal space between those borders, are the site where signs mingle, interfere, and become opaque, and where the metamorphoses of simple or complex (composite) signs and the transfer or interpretative appropriation of an ‘empty’ repertoire may occur.

Julian Kuecklich underscores the apparent paradoxical “tendency of semiosis to progress by referring to itself…[a] phenomenon of re-entry”. Winfried Noeth argues that “the aesthetic sign, according to semiotic aesthetics, is a sign which functions as such due to its own quality and not on the basis of its reference to something else…the aesthetic function of a message is opposed to its referential function…” Per Aage Brandt suggest that the self-referentiality of artworks “makes them paradoxically be signs of themselves”. It is necessary to distinguish between the emergence of the sign as form on the one hand, and the still constant tendency of the viewer to perceptually shift from presentation to representation on the other.

The artist explores the possibility of dissociation between visual configuration structures of characters, acoustic-phonetic, and semantic factors. The mirror reversal used in seal cutting may also facilitate this process. Yasumi Kuriya indicates that “the motor or kinetic representation of the kanji can be retrieved directly without retrieving the accompanying phonetic or semantic representations”. In the same way a painter retrieves visual design configurations and dissociates between the configured brushstrokes or colored areas, and a possible imaginality and the symbolic meaning it may convey - “a symbol depends on the interaction between the sign and a base of knowledge”, remarks David Lidov. Peter Bogh Andersen argues that “the difference between the painting system model and the user’s model means two interpretations of the same sign-complex produced by artist and user that access different parts of it”.

What is of importance here, is to remember the category of ‘traditional art’. While keeping in mind culture-specific pragmatic differences, one may say that Byzantine Painting, for example, was a ‘traditional art’ like calligraphy. What counted was the form of the form. The correctness of pictorial iconic aggregates could be ascertained with the assistance of how-to handbooks containing the model schemata. Calligraphy, as an art form, is still alive. Notwithstanding the medium-imposed restrictions, there is a variety of styles and visual experiments - Wang Dwo, Zhang Rui-tu and Fu Shan, Jin Nong, He Shao-ji and Yu You-ren, Zhang Yu-zao, Kamijo Shinzan and Tanaka Setsuzan, Ning Fucheng and Shi Lu, to name but a few artists. Are Zao Wou-ki’s ink works just abstract calligraphies, or is he more likely following in the footsteps of the Literati by using calligraphic operations in his paintings?

    Who or what brings forth art as art?…Art constructs art.

S. J. Schmidt

  “An aesthetical information rests on its means, on its singular realization”, writes Max Bense. He emphasizes the play-element, the ritual game-playing path, the dynamic game, the game for the sake of gaming, although bound by medium imposed constraints. The game is “the elementary life-movement”, remarks Rudolf zur Lippe - rules, targets, recursivity, redundance, intersecting and contradictory strategies. The system of injunctions points to practical experience. There is a construction-related liminocentric self-reference, - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines play as a meta-communication which refers exclusively to itself - the primary model being the ritual ludic emergence of a configuration. In calligraphy, the ritualizing is more evident in the preparation process, in the mastering of the tacit knowledge or action sequences that Richard Schechner calls a “generative code”.

While investigating complex systems and the emergence of diversity, Jenna Bednar and Scott Page have shown that a game-theoretic framework where “agents play multiple distinct games and are cognitively constrained” may explain the emergence of culture. According to Klaus-Peter Koepping, it is only the artist who still remains playful, reconstructing constantly the tension rule< >unrule by means of the ritualized processes of the artistic gameplay. In play, “the ‘how’ obstructs the ‘what’ “, remarks Bo Kampmann Walther.

Brian Sutton-Smith points out that “the installation of the form of the play-world-non-play-world distinction must, performatively, feed back on itself during play…the deep fascination lies in the oscillation between play and non-play…Make-believe and world building through specific functional form operations are crucial factors”.

    If we claim that the semiotic universe is structured by self-organized criticality, its geometries should be fractal.

Franco Orsucci

  Bo Kampmann Walther argues that “semiosis obeys the law of emergence…[and] the theory of self-organized criticality might serve as a deep, unifying paradigm of semiosis”. Horace H. S. Ip and Helena Tsui Fong Wong have investigated the fractal properties and dimensions of calligraphy styles, brush geometry, brush orientation motions and friction, ink absorbtion and depositing, and the generation of characters and their structural and random aspects.

Chaos theory testifies to the existence of self-similarities in processes. “Self-programming of art - memory - requires the specification of a referential network identifying the types of form…” indicates Niklas Luhmann. He continues: “Style respects tradition by deviating from it… recursive reconstruction…”.

This inherent complexity is the core of a painting system. Peter Bogh Andersen hypothesizes that the painting system may be described as a perturbed recursive system based on concurrent processes, a model able to accommodate paradoxes and even contradictions, and stability and change.

The recursive play of formal content, style as memory function, facilitates the autopoiesis of the system by creating a context for the work, a context that the work may transgress. Recursion refers to the built-in self-reflexiveness of art. Yuri Lotman speaks of the synchrony of culture’s diachrony, of illegitimate, imprecise, approximate ‘translation’ as an important feature of creative thinking, and of autocommunication as including increased indexicalization of signs. “We are immersed in the network of on-going translations, indefinitely in never-ending recursion…”, remarks Adam Skibinski.

    The new idea springs from a new way of seeing.

Ernst von Glasersfeld

  C. S. Peirce brings into focus the fact that “a sign may be defined as a Medium for the communication of a Form…[Form] is a power, [it] is the fact that something would happen under certain conditions…”. It may be worth mentioning that according even to string theory form is everything. The signic quality oscillates between gradually liberating itself from its materiality by tending to become transparent, and the anchoring in the initial medial material. Peer F. Bundgaard points out that the mereological structure changes from the first mode of perception (representation) to the second (presentation). According to Bundgaard, one may speak of representational indetermination where “factors of destabilization at a representational level may be pregnantial vectors at a presentational level”. Floyd Merrell suggests that “in art, Firstness might involve a two-dimensional…patch of color…Secondness…would include that patch’s interactive interrelation to other…patches…Thirdness would be a matter of…putting them all together into an imaginary…image…”.

It must be remembered that representational data were usually prescribed, e.g. iconographic parameters within an iconographic communication system, or, in the case of calligraphy, a text and the more or less codified conventions of its inscription. This is the case in many, if not most, works of art. The artist will have to create a visual form within the constraints of astyle allowing certain transgressions. Put differently, one may say that a figuralrepresentation consists in the construction of a medium-constrained artistic-formal visual equivalent within the framework of a painting system. Alexius Meinong has conceptualized the dichotomy of phantasy phenomenon – one does not believe in its being real - and a bona fide phenomenon. Barry Smith argues that the powers of the play of complex combinations of phantasy phenomena can be extended by works of art. Smith continues: “The crucial idea is that of compositionality”.

    Art duplicates the world…The peculiarity of Modern Art is rendering Media visible…the brushwork is both brushwork and fictional element of a work.

Armin Nassehi

  The sign as form involves graphs and allographs, graphemic pattern and similarity, grapheme clusters and inter-grapheme relationships, stylistic or accidental variations, mereological deformations, prosody as rhythmic pattern, polyphony and layering, modulation of tones and/or tints. The painting system shows tendencies to spatially and temporally structure by integration and segregation. To paraphrase Per Aage Brandt, one can argue that in analogy with music the visual work entails rhythm, i.e. recursive numerical series, coordinated ritualized formal sequences or arrangements, and an harmonic pattern for interacting formants, e.g. an organization schema and/or a gamut.

Seen systems-theoretically, a form can be used as a medium for further formations - in painting, for example, the form of perspective as medium for other forms. The methods involved may shed light on some of the questions surrounding the concept of perspective construction as harmonic construction, to be viewed firstly as surface interplays, as the surface geometries defined by James Elkins as non-illusionistic geometry. Brian Rotman underscores the ambiguous role played by the vanishing point - both participating into and constructing the system. The vanishing point thus calls attention to the virtuality of the system, to art as artifice.

Script as symbolic generalization means building forms and the visibility of forms. The form of any script may be used as medium for further formal structuralizations, regardless of readability or unreadability. A medium can be used as form. In calligraphy, the material medium, paper - the blank, empty paper - becomes form. In fact, Shutaro Mukai remarks that “when learning calligraphy…the Japanese learn not only to write the character but also to incorporate the empty background”. The black void of accidentally splashed ink or paint becomes form. This offers an interesting parallel to Nishida Kitaro’s notion of ‘form of the formless’.

    The artist tunes in. The hand thinks and follows the material’s thinking.

Albertina Lourenci

  According to Henri Focillon “touch is the very beginning of creation”. Claude Gandelman writes of “the tactile eye”. Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec observes that the memorization of characters is gestural - calligraphy involves tactile and kinetic memory - while Ryuji Takaki speaks of training in pattern recognition, of the cooperation of the eye and hand, hence the teaching method of repeated copying by which is meant kinetic practice centered on mastering speed and pressure.

Paul Bouissac speaks of the symbolic meaning of movement - movements may be equivalent, but semasiologically different acts may emerge, each unfolding a different action-sign system reality notwithstanding the unmistakable syntactic similarities between, for example, kendo (the way of the sword), dance, or the performance of a calligraphy demonstration. When engaging in the structured interactions of ritualized art-making, a matrix of gestures, visual patterns correlates, and even extramusical rhythmic sound texture as acoustic substructure - a Chinese artist once remarked that the sound of the brush and the movement of ink sing and dance together - constitute the performative dimension, the moment of instantiation.

Howard Gardner emphasizes the cultural context of multiple intelligences. Kinesthetic intelligence, for example, is possibly related to the retrieval of kinesthetic image-schemata. The use of kinetic and postural potential is connected with procedural memory - kinetic memory is unlocked by activating a motor program. Speaking about Japan, Richard K. Payne uses the category of ‘ritual culture’ as a ‘network of practices’ which includes also the performative nature of art. While Dorinne K. Kondo remarks that martial arts “practice patterned movements, until the movements are inscribed in muscle memory”, Richard K. Payne alludes to gesturo-haptic writing as involving visual-motoric links, for example the practicing of characters by finger tracing in the air. Calligraphic practice is experiential, repetitive, but not semantic. Gesturality and pictorial rendering work as desemantisation. Irenaeus Eibl-Eibesfeldt speaks of cultural ritualization by artistic means. In ritual-based art, making is not semiotic. The phase of generalized semiotization comes about as aesthetics of reception.

    The idea of culture itself may be construed as a form of ascetism.

Pierre Bourdieu

  “The gestural is a category that goes beyond the frame imposed by the concept of text’, notes Nicolas Pethes: the brush-mark is more like the Medieval Neuma, the musical notation that is a sign only for the direction of the voice, or, in Goran Sonesson’s semiotic perspective, “being the record of a hand-held tool, pictures are chirographic and largely indexicalities of the forces producing them”.

The work records recurrent semiotic modalities which were in operation - sign, color, cesias (visual sensations aroused by distributions of light, i.e. gloss, darkness, opacity, translucency, transparency), tactile modality, gesture, and so on - cross-coupled with the material domain, that is, the oscillation between sensory material and structured experience, the graphical interfaces and the framework of blending them in action and perception. Lucia Leao writes that what defines the weave of complexity “is that it is formed by a circular game in which the binomials order/disorder, chance/determination, interaction/retroaction are conjugated in an infinite and simultaneous way”, while Craig A. Lindley argues that “playing the game is performing the gameplay gestalt”, or, to put it in the words of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the artist is being caught in “the ‘flow’ of the immersive gameplay”. At the same time, other significant roles have been proposed for calligraphy in the individual development of the practitioner - calligraphy is a ‘way’, a meditation with the brush. If semasiology signifies assigning meaning to a form, then the idea of a form space is crucial to all systems of human actions including art making. More generally, there is an interface between painting and calligraphy - the ground of both consists of systems of nonsemiotic or, as James Elkins puts it, subsemiotic marks. The play of complexity and dynamic heterarchy is subsumed in the ‘suchness’ of the moment of instantiation.

The literature lacks discussion about the artistic processing of a painting or writing system, about the artist performing a search for abstract patterns of visible marks or visual elements. The question is not the ambiguous one of what they represent but the query as to what units make the system work. Fernande Saint-Martin invented the coloreme, R. P. Harrison the picteme. In the domain of calligraphy, Han-liang Chang has introduced the notion of semiographemics. The graphemics - or, to create a new term, the pictoremics - of a system and its combinations should be described on their own terms. For example, the investigation conducted by Robert Sablatnig, Paul Kammerer, and Ernestine Zolda by means of computer-aided analysis and pattern recognition, allows insights into the artist’s ‘structural signature’ based on brushstrokes and on patterns of brushstrokes, joined strokes and overlapped strokes. The same technology allows for the examination of traces of drawing devices and even of palette knife marks.

In the context of the medium concept, Niels Bruegger draws a further distinction between substratum and material content: “The substratum [e.g. paper] is part of the medium on, or in, which the material content [e.g. black ink marks] is placed”. In this sense, the material content has no meaning beyond its visual form.

The distribution of marks and the trajectory of strokes must be decoded in order to recover dynamic information. The creative gesture is the site of emergence. Winfried Noeth’s observation springs to mind: “The function of painting does not consist in signifying, it consists in showing”.

Finally, two words on the connection that exists between cognitive neuroscience and the insights discussed above. Insofar as vision is concerned, William P. Seeley indicates that “form recognition can be dissociated from object identification”. According to Eric Myin, there are two kinds of vision science: a representational (creating an internal replica) and a nonrepresentational one (a process of engagement with the environment - one reads in a paper by J. Kevin O’Regan and Alva Noe about vision as exploratory activity mediated by knowledge of sensorimotor contingencies).

Nicholas Humphrey argues about a non-conceptualising state of mind at the time of art making. Michael Gazzaniga suggests that most of our memories are reconstructions filling out gaps in the story we weave. He speaks about ‘the fictional self’ while Joseph Goguen pursues the Buddhist notions of Coemergent Arising and groundlesness.

Art as a culturally embedded activity can be examined within the scheme of ontic (productive) and epistemic (interpretive) relations. Presentation and representation harbor a tension worth exploring further. But, first of all art making should be thought of as enstasis.



Surprisingly, there have been many examples in the literature where ‘pictorial space’ appears to mean the representation of an image and the accurate or convincing depiction of three-dimensional space. In this paper’s parlance, ‘pictorial space’ is a medium-constrained organization that allows one to formalize structures, i.e. a form space construct. ‘Pictorial’ means painterly form, it does not mean picture or image of something. One cannot rely on the original/copy correspondence metaphor, even in the case of a figurative work claiming to ‘mirror’ nature. “We have to remember that what we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning”, remarks Werner Heisenberg. The ‘as if’ gives the ability to construct. From this paper’s point of view, the construct indicates the move towards an idea of order and first requires that one unfolds its logic in its own terms. The present author suggests that the pictorial fact may take a polycontextural strategy, i.e. procedural switches between formal domains and the interaction of the user of simultaneously valid contextures.

“The role of art is essentially contingent, a phenomenon that could have been otherwise”, argues Niklas Luhmann. He emphasizes the “time-binding function” of the art object. Communication ‘through art’ occurs paradoxically by means of perception, a perception that lingers. At the same time, Luhmann also raises the more general question: what difference does the art work make? The answer resides in ascertaining the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of the communication, by focussing on its utterance.

© Stefan Arteni 2004
© 2001 Stefan Arteni
& Myriam Arteni
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