Earthquakes and Explorations: Language and Painting from by Stephen Scobie

By Stephen Scobie

Like the earthquakes and explorations depicted at the covers of Gertrude Stein's notebooks, this research responds to creative and linguistic fault strains and charts new territories. The author's quandary is either with a common theoretical query – the courting among portray and poetry, among the visible and the verbal – and with a selected interval of creative background – the early years of the 20th century, whilst Cubism flourished.

Rather than seeing any clash or irreconcilable department among portray and poetry, Scobie proposes, as a version for his or her relation, the Derridean suggestion of 'the supplement.' This relation is grounded within the pervasiveness of language, within the ways that language surrounds, imbues, constructions, and supplementations either verbal and non-verbal images.

Working from the double concentration of idea and background, this publication doesn't try and advance a consecutive argument, yet really navigates round its subject matters, adopting a touch varied method in every one bankruptcy. It starts with a normal theoretical dialogue of the position of language in portray and in artwork heritage, then strikes to a chain of particular discussions of features of Cubism, contemplating the work of Georges Braque, and the writings of Gertrude Stein and Guillaume Apollinaire. It concludes with an exam of the experimental kind of concrete poetry, together with sound and visible poetry, specially the Cubist-influenced paintings of Ian Hamilton Finlay. Earthquakes and Explorations will curiosity these learning paintings historical past, literary feedback, and important theory.

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Extra resources for Earthquakes and Explorations: Language and Painting from Cubism to Concrete Poetry (Theory / Culture)

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It can certainly be argued that the nature of our visual experience has been changed, in the twentieth century, by the proliferation of the technologies of reproduction, to the point that the multiple, mass-produced image (what Baudrillard calls 'the simulacrum') has become the norm, and that this is the field within which contemporary art forms such as video or computer-generated images now necessarily situate themselves. The 'elite object,' the original oil painting hanging on a museum wall or in a private collection, is only the fetishized reminder of a bygone age of bourgeois accumulation.

This briefly sketched scheme of four modalities of visual representation is, of course, largely irrelevant to non-figurative or 'abstract' painting, which has to be approached principally in terms of the fourth modality. But if abstract painting bypasses issues of representation, it certainly does not escape Language. Quite the opposite. If Language is defined as a differential system with, in Saussure's words, 'no positive terms/ then abstract painting can be seen as a pure exercise in linguistics.

Fair enough: but 'The Philosophical Brothel' does far more than simply point out that Les Demoiselles 'may have somewhat to do with sex' as the coy tone of that 'somewhat' already begins to suggest. Rather, what it does is to produce a fully narrativized account of the painting, in accordance with the 'We are a man' motif, which reveals itself to be both sexist in itself and also complicit with the sexism of the painting. In her introduction to the 1988 reprint, Rosalind Krauss writes that Steinberg 'does not secure his new reading by means of a text...

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