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Article

David Kinmont

(b Paris, Oct 18, 1859; d Paris, Jan 3, 1941).

French philosopher. The son of a Polish Jewish musician, he took his baccalauréat at the Lycée Condorcet in Paris and entered the Ecole Normale Supérieure in 1878. He gained his Licencié ès Lettres in 1879 and during 1881–8 taught in secondary schools at Angers, Clermont Ferrand and Paris. The publication of one of his two doctoral theses, Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience (Paris, 1889), brought him public recognition. It was followed in 1896 by Matière et mémoire.

Bergson was concerned with the problem of expression, and he attempted to resist the linguistic snares that he associated with conceptual thinking, arguing instead for an organic philosophy. He was aware of the inadequacies of the mechanistic determinism of 19th-century scientism, especially as presented in the English philosopher Herbert Spencer’s First Principles (London, 1862). Bergson saw reality as a constant state of dynamic flux in which past, present and future formed a single continuum. The question of time was all important to him, and he insisted that the time of consciousness existed on multiple interrelated levels. The fusion of these heterogeneous instants comprised a duration. This was not purely quantitative measurable time, but time as it is experienced by human consciousness. To Bergson, duration meant memory, and memory was synonymous with consciousness, an unending flow rather than a succession of discrete instants....

Article

Amanda du Preez

Term used to indicate the complex visual matrix incorporating the one who looks as well as the one who is looked at. This means the one who imposes the gaze and the one who is the object of the gaze are both implicated in the construction of the gaze. The concept was addressed initially by Sigmund Freud’s concept of scopophilia (‘pleasure in looking’ or voyeurism) and later in Jacques Lacan’s formulation of the mirror stage and its role in identity formation. Lacan formulated the complex role of the gaze in constructing the relation between interior self and exterior world as two kinds of subjects—not only as a powerful subject gazing at the world but also as a lacking, objectified subject encountering the gaze outside himself. For the most part the link between the gaze and power is entrenched in theories on the gaze, since the directed gaze of the powerful subject has the ability to subjugate and even petrify its objects as exemplified in the terrifying gaze of Medusa in Greek mythology. The construction of the gaze happens within an asymmetry of power. In recent times, the gaze has become a trope within visual culture for the critical analysis of several entwined ideas concerning class, race, ethnography, sex, gender, religion, embodiment, ideology, power, and visuality. In this article the powerful directed gaze is analysed through the categories of the clinical gaze, colonial gaze, touristic gaze, and the male gaze. Finally, theorizing possibilities of going beyond the gaze are considered....

Article

Howard Caygill

(b Kamenz, Jan 21, 1729; d Brunswick, Feb 15, 1781).

German philosopher, critic and playwright. He was the leading representative of the German Enlightenment in the theatre and in criticism. Lessing studied theology at the University of Leipzig from 1746 to 1748, changing his faculty to medicine shortly before moving to Berlin. He was in Berlin intermittently until 1760, when he became secretary to the Prussian General von Tauentzien in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland), remaining there until 1765. In 1767 he went to the liberal trading city of Hamburg in the hope of founding a German national theatre, and from 1770 until his death was the librarian to the Prince of Brunswick at Wolfenbüttel.

During Lessing’s first stay in Berlin he contributed a series of brilliant articles to the Vossische Zeitung, a journal of popular philosophy dedicated to the propagation of Enlightenment ideas. His first major critical works were his contributions to Briefe, die neueste Literatur betreffend (1759–65), along with Moses Mendelssohn (...

Article

Nadja Rottner

French critic and philosopher Nicolas Bourriaud adopted the term ‘relational aesthetics’ in the mid-1990s to refer to the work of a selected group of artists, and what he considers their novel approach to a socially conscious art of participation: an art that takes as its content the human relations elicited by the artwork. Its key practitioners, most of them emerging in the 1990s, include Rirkrit Tiravanija , Philippe Parreno (b 1964), Liam Gillick, Pierre Huyghe, Maurizio Cattelan, Carsten Höller , and Vanessa Beecroft . For example, Carsten Höller installed Test Site (2006) at the Tate Modern in London so that visitors could enjoy the amusement park thrill of large playground slides in the museum’s Turbine Hall, and bond with fellow viewers over their experience. Bourriaud’s collected writings in Relational Aesthetics (1998, Eng. edn 2002) helped to spark a new wave of interest in participatory art.

While Bourriaud omits acknowledging the historical roots of relational art, Marxist-influenced critiques of the changing conditions of modern life, and arguments for art’s ability to improve man’s relationship with reality have a long history in 20th-century art. Critics Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer were among the first to developed new models for an art of politicized participation in the 1920s. The relational art of the 1990s and early 2000s is a continuation and an extension of traditions of participatory art throughout the 20th century (such as ...

Article

Simon Banks

(b Leipzig, May 22, 1813; d Venice, Feb 13, 1883).

German composer and writer. Though his writings are not primarily concerned with the visual arts, they contain interesting general aesthetic theories. In his crucial essay Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft (1849) Wagner made the first use of the term Gesamtkunstwerk . In this work he called for a unification of all the arts in a manner that had not been experienced since the days of ancient Greece, and his main preoccupation was with the interrelationship of words and music. For Wagner art was a natural, necessary product of uncorrupted man and as much a product of the unconscious as the conscious mind. He divided art into two broad categories: the human arts, which derive directly from man, and, on the other hand, those arts that are created by man from the materials of nature. With regard to the former, which are generated by bodily motion and rhythm, he spoke of the ‘three purely human arts’ of music, poetry and dance. The latter category contains the arts of architecture, sculpture and painting, to all of which he ascribed a merely secondary role. Their proper task is to be found in support of drama. Thus architecture was to provide the necessary stage-set for the artwork of the future, sculpture should be employed in the service of architecture, and landscape painting should be used to create a natural backdrop in stage scenery. Under the influence of Schopenhauer’s philosophy, Wagner later modified his theories, and in ...