Society for Psychological Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
In this paper, I will talk about images from the point of view of an artist, which means I will make a distinction between my drawings as drawn and as seen. This distinction raises the question: when we say that an artwork speaks to us, who is speaking?
Specifically, this paper is about images that are made from scratch. Unlike photographs, in which a photographer exposes the world and offers another look at it, my drawings are entirely my responsibility.
Here, I will probe notions of response to and responsibility for an image. I will question the separation of artwork and audience and the idea that an image is an artist’s way of communicating across this divide. I will ask: is there a way of thinking about an image that bridges the divide between the drawn and the seen?
The word ‘image’, I think, easily traps us in an idea of surface and exteriority, and consequently of separation. Images mounted in a frame or projected on a screen can make us forget that the act of looking at them makes them part of our experiential space. I would like to talk about images not as surface, but as space, and not as voice but as presence.
Perhaps then, an image doesn’t speak to us but rather faces us. And perhaps if we talk about image as space and presence we might substitute expectations of communication with a pursuit of communion.