Core Traditions within the Arts

Thursday 20th February 2014

Spencer Roberts Lecture

Due to illness and unfortunate circumstances, we hadn’t had a lecture from Spencer in quite a while, therefore this was our first this term.  This post will be about this lecture and the “core traditions with the arts” in which it is related to. I don’t often blog about my lectures, but I have found the recent ones to be rather interesting.

This was the first lecture to a new topic “Core Traditions within the Arts” in which we looked at Semiotics- approaches for creative visual thinking, Ideological, and Cognitivist. This involves the structure of language and the way in which we think about things as humans.  Immediately I found this rather interesting, and working within the “Earth Artifact” project I thought it our new topic could come in handy.

Within my Earth Artifact project I had also looked at semiotics, therefore I intended to listen intently. I find semiotics interesting because they can push structures as well as work with them, and different semiotics can cause a different affect or response according to its representation. With semiotics and ideology, the images become material, they strive to achieve something, portray a message, feeling, or direction.

In our first term lectures, we looked at the impact that research had on practise, and how images themselves can be used as research and not only for illustration purposes.


Immanuel Kant- the “father of cognitivism” explored the structure of the mind. He touched upon the complexity of the world and introduced the idea of representation- “the way in which we frame the world”. Ideological images try to represent means of framing the world- giving some order to what is around us. Introduce to us a way of thinking. As well as being ideological, images can be used persuasively, the two tend to work well together.

Holbein’s “The Ambassadors” painting has been controversial over the years as to the artists intentions. The painting portrays themes of Art and Science- the relationship between the two. But also, within the image shows a skull stretched out on the floor. Instantly you tend to think of death, another possible theme? This could be used in relation to art and science.  However it was later interpreted that the artist Holbein merely used the skull as a signature to his work.  This is because his surname is Hohl + Bein which can be a pun for Hollow Bone. This shows how images can be symbolic and even have hidden symbolism within- tradition of influence.

Gilbert Ryle introduced ways of thinking about how arguments are made in the current age- post modernity perspective? He thought that to transform the world, you don’t necessarily need a strong and logical argument, but instead can simply be a firm persuader. Process relational approach to research- Innovation. Argument as a skill, but not as a Innovation procedure. When writing, is it material practise, or is it in fact a constructive thing learned practically?


For the second half of the lecture we began to look at the ways in which complications can be brought about when regarding research. How is practise based research theory used and how we can work with it? We went back to talking about representation and did this in reference to Deleuze who explored the problems of representation, recognition and how we lose the individuality of things. This wasn’t necessarily a philosophical idea, but in a philosophy style manner. A style of thinking and a way of doing something strains towards:

Concept- Thinking

Percept- Seeing

Affect- Feeling

The reason isn’t to get to know something but just to get something moving, transforming and changing the way in which we think see and feel about things; new ideas aligned to sophistry. The aims were to not to do with knowledge, but to make something happen- using knowledge.

Kant and Deleuze

Representation- Deleuze hates Kant, but, uses him as an influence.  Does an artist or designers work fit their definition of research? We underplay the importance of transformation which points to a qualitative example of research. Deleuze goes through the history of thought, having moments of innovation to new ways of framing complexities of out world.  Deleuze thinks that Kant introduced the idea of representation in which he is radically critical to the structure of, however, he does like the idea of innovation.

With semiotics, do you need to think about meaning, or is it more of a flow of materialistic communication?

Percept- Perception?

Affect- Affection?

Something can “affect” you, manipulate you, trying to take you away from the language of cinema, physically transforming you.

To sum up the comparison between Kant and Deleuze. Deleuze hates Kant- does not like representation, but, borrows bits of it, for example, structure methodical process and definitions. This is a huge overlap as to how they structure things.

Barbara Bolts

Criticism- an artist should not need to radically shock or go to the extreme on order to get attention. Rather than thinking philosophical in terms of Kant, Bolt, focuses on randomness, the day to day things that happen, not planned. By doing this is opens up your research process introducing you to new and different stuff. You should embrace chance and circumstance, produce movement in thought. When faced with problems, you should get to know that problem, and find out what can be done to transform it. When arguing, find a position in that argument and poke at them about it- how can it be manipulated. Notice the connection to the world- affect, concept and percept.

An interesting take on things is if you don’t aim for an accurate representation but instead mutate them. Find something very small which nobody notices and make that the subject of your work and exaggerate it, like a caricature.