#2a. 091712. winndeburlo.
Space implies time, implies situation, embodiment, predicates a subject as a verb does in a sentence. Photography is often thought to dissociate space and time, to capture a duration, to sever it from continuity (q.v. Barthes, 4). However, on the other end of the double articulation, our presumptions about the absolute reality of photographs (simulations) is the reification of simulation as reality. This is to say that photographs, media, films, &c. either radically artificialize reality (perhaps by viral transmission?), or, more appealingly, expose reality as already modal, simulated, artificial, and involute. Thomas Demand lives in these recursive spaces, instigating feedback loops that result, not in the viewer’s absorption into the hyperreality of his simulations, but rather unearthing the delirium of cognition and making us all astronauts.
As David Antin has suggested, conceptual artwork is not art by virtue of creating representational images, and continuing a historical discourse, but rather by raising “the question about what sort of space a work of art could possibly occupy” (Antin, 177).
Similarly, cognitive science has trended away from representational models, which generally conceptualize visual experience as the storing and networking of images, symbols, etc., within the brain. Though Representationalism may still be the dominant school, most of it’s theoretical and empirical underpinning is being contested by the growing field of Embodied Cognition, which contends that cognition “is deeply dependent upon features of the physical body of an agent, that is, when aspects of the agent's body beyond the brain play a significant causal or physically constitutive role in cognitive processing” (Wilson & Foglia, 1).
Perhaps this doesn’t sound immediately transgressive, but if we consider how we normally conceptualize the experience of looking at, say, a photograph, we can see a radical shift. Normally, we think of images as amodal: a contained, idealized “Real,” “This,” or otherwise total correspondence between signified and signifier (Barthes, 4–5)––in other words, a perfect representation. In contrast, the conclusions of embodied cognition habitually dissolve such strong correspondence. Consider the following propositions that Wilson and Foglia claim are implications of embodiment in the realm of “visual consciousness:”
Vision is not a mere brain process devoted to constructing mental models, but rather a skill of the whole situated, embodied agent, one whose movements are crucial to visual agency (cf. Gibson 1979)
Visual processing should be recognized as a temporally extended activity, where such activity is guided in part by the agent itself. (Wilson & Foglia, 22)