Monday, January 16, 2012

not about invisibility

... that is, I could doubtless make it be about invisibility, if I put my mind to it: having been re-reading James Elkins's The Object Stares Back for class tomorrow, I'm baffled by his propensity, his desire to see faces everywhere.  To make sense of abstract or unknown forms through the projection of a face or body onto them perhaps makes sense (and indeed, I could well have chosen a spot on the crumpled and lumpy plaster of the dining room wall that looks much like a man-in-the-moon face).  But to see them in forms that are otherwise recognizable?  Do I, can I see eyes looking back at me here?  Even if I enlarge it, and cast my own eyes round it, I just don't have the visual habit of anthropomorphization, of sensing that I'm being stared at by the inanimate world.

This has been troubling me since I read it - but at the same time, it provides a real example of the visual subjectivity.  It makes me realize once again how my viewing habit is one of thinking about representation - of seeing things as planes and textures and shadows and conundrums - conundra? - of lines.  This isn't to say that I actually do turn things into two dimensional art - except through taking photographs of them - as often as I'd wish, but it certainly means that I've self-trained my perception to operate in a very different mode from Elkins's (which is, I think, no bad thing - but I want to see what others in class have to say.  Maybe the only honest way to write about looking is to be thoroughly subjective?).

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