Continuing in retrospect:
Posted on the Cooper Gallery Blog:
Thursday, 24 November 2011
Prologue to Blog Postings: Thoughts Concerning the Epistemology of Space and Visual Culture.
What is knowledge, how is knowledge acquired? How do we know what we know? Who decides and normalises that knowledge into common knowledge? And how is Space concerned? These questions call for an exploration into different interpretations of space as a means of analysing and questioning how we draw knowledge from all aspects of contemporary society through social encounter and the effect which that has on social and individual consciousness. Space is integral to this question as this is where we dwell and in which all these social signifiers exist. The nature of space, as discussed in previous blogs, allows for a constant reconfiguring of use and an exploration of the knowledge gained from that process. An epistemological study into contemporary visual culture leads us to reconsider and to remake opinions between Space Place and Public Agency. How people perceive space and how it is ordered into place and therefore think and act accordingly.
These epistemological questions lie at the centre of all fields of study which strive to communicate within social culture. As visual culture and visual media has evolved to encompass vast sways of our lives the need has never been greater to question the epistemology of visual culture and for a critical analysis of the spaces in which it dwells if ‘Space is never void of social relations’. This may give a cultural barometer into social structures, opinions and the extent of hegemonic influences which colour our view. Henri Lefebvre argues spatial analysis negates the illusion of transparency which enables hegemonic manipulation of culture. This idea of ‘transparency’ lulls society into believing its social structure is open and inclusive and therefore society does not need to question excepted norms hence exists within its own individual culturally specific realities. Spatial analysis however allows space to become a vessel in which analytical critical discourses can take place on how we perceive. Can this discourse be taken further to influence the art making process? If we relate to a work of art through our relations to others and those relations are shaped by the spaces in which we dwell, could this participation be seen as the actual process of the making of art, if no object or viewer exists in a void and no thought without forethought?
Integral in art is the viewer. The interaction of the viewer with the object enables agency of the viewer (if they so choose) therefore providing the ability to change how the work is perceived through individual subjectivity expressed in future actions. This may take many forms, be they in conversation, the forming of opinions, blogging or the future making of one’s own work (in the case of the artist), even if not in direct reaction to the information assimilated but subconsciously. Therefore under what influences we absorb that knowledge which will shape our future perception, vitally must me questioned on a multi subjective level. Artists generally are aware of this. However can this questioning and theorising of knowledge employed on a more practical level by the artist culminate in the formulation of art practices? Can these art practices then become socially inclusive through the understanding of how social relations are formulated and how we assign Place’s to the Spaces in which we place our work and in which we presume culture as a whole can identify. Or do we want them to identify, this culture which supports us and which we should support? Or should we even try in reality to be inclusive when we are making work which after all is a form of self expression?