Sensoria: The Anatomy of Experience / No. 88 project / May, 2015
08.05.2015 - 06.06.2015

“The body is our general medium for having a world.”

Maurice Merleau-Ponty

 

“I am all that I see, I am an intersubjective field, not despite my body and historical situation, but, on the contrary, by being this body and this situation, and through them, all the rest.”

 

When it came to theories of art, the semiotic obsession of the 20th century was sense over physical. Starting with Erwin Panofsky, whose thesis in the field of iconography changed the course of history of arts, art critics began to be interested in explaining the meanings behind artworks, in order to decode them and understand their symbols and relate them to a social, political and cultural context.

 

The sense of sight not only was crucial in the analysis of a work of art (after all, that’s why it’s called visual arts), but it was also separated from the other senses – it is the one leading to logic, while the rest are kinesthetic-related, according to semiotics. It was this exact paradigm that expressed the fact that a reasonable person – best portrayed by the art critic – can know an artwork through observation and analysis, and not through his or her senses.

 

However, once the Dada movement emerged and the Bauhaus trend developed, artist challenged the history of arts towards a paradigm shift in which only visualization and reason mattered, with the aim of widening the horizon of perception of a work of art, thus trying to replace the question “What does this artwork symbolize?” with “How do I perceive it?”, the observer poses him or herself.

 

This was the starting point of sight as an inseparable portal from and for the other senses, and of contemporary art as a means of integrating multimedia elements that would appeal on a multi-sensorial level. Regardless this change, art shouldn’t be an excuse for lack of ideas, vision or clarity. On the contrary, this transition could inaugurate a universe in which the viewer is encouraged to perceive the surrounding world through that work of art, and through the perspective of the artist, thus feeling art as he or she feels his own life. All in all, art as an absolutely overwhelming experience is above all, pleasure and comfort, and not just a socio-cultural obligation.