Focusing on any specific 'thing', discuss the ways in which its meanings are constructed. It seems that we can only understand ourselves by the ‘things’ we find around us. Even if it is only to understand everything we are not. Any phenomena perceived within what we call our Universe can be coined under the term of being a ‘thing’. Whether it be a piece of toast, a planet or a Neuron firing within our brain, any phenomena which can be observed and, therefore, named can be said to fall into the all encompassing term of being a ‘thing’. Some would argue that even that which cannot be physically observed, such as a dream, a thought or sensation could also be thought of as being a ‘thing’. I suppose their argument would be that whatever can be differentiated from something else can be argued as being a ‘thing’ in its own right. I, however, would like to keep the term related to this, perceivable, dimension and focus on that which can be seen to be physically ‘real’.
Specifically I would like to focus on the Artists sketchbook and pencil, in terms of being ‘things’ which unquestionably play a huge role in the practice of art and my particular field of study, Illustration, and has done for centuries. During this essay I intend to explore and discuss the ‘life and death’ of the Artists sketchbook and pencil, starting with the initial encounter and how an individuals life experiences can and do affect our personal and public perceptions towards these ‘things’. I would also like to reflect upon how, as practitioners, we interact with these two very different, but equally important, ‘tools’.
I hope to briefly discuss the phenomenology of ‘things’ in general and reflect upon the way in which construct meaning towards them.
I am interested in the notion that we ourselves bestow a kind of ‘life’ upon these, seemingly lifeless, ‘things’ by the way in which we give them a particular place in our own lives. Finally, I will explore the ‘death’ and/or ‘retirement’ of these objects and discuss the idea that they may be ‘reincarnated’ as new objects, with new social context and given a new ‘life’ within the world.
When we experience any ‘thing’ all of our senses are involved. This is fundamentally how we are able to construct a ‘realistic’ (from human perspective) view of it. If I am in the stationers, purchasing a sketchbook, naturally, all my senses are involved with this, infinitely unique, encounter. This means the impression I first have of the object is spontaneous, subjective and not pre-meditated but felt, tacit and would be different for any individual depending on innumerable precedent experiences.
“Objects are encountered initially through the senses and the body” (Hooper-Greenhill. E, 2000:116).
We have an extremely complex and reciprocal relationship with things. We have been surrounded by them since we could possibly remember, there could never of been a time when being conscious, of not being conscious of some ‘thing’. Our development towards understanding them is essential to our ongoing understanding of the world.
In regards to the specific example of the sketchbook, most people ,upon first impression, would obviously notice and understand it to be a sketchbook as most of us have experienced them in some way, usually through school. The feelings that proceed the observation are usually due to the context of the past experience.
As I have personally had lots of experience with sketchbooks during my practice, I would immediately see them as an object of interest to me and would be concerned to know the size and grade of the paper. Having my individual preconceptions about how I personally work and about what I would want to be using this sketchbook for. If I was to consider purchasing it I may refer to a ‘thing’ called ‘the price’ which, in turn, might affect my desiscion towards buying it when compared to a ‘thing’ called my bank balance.
References: Hooper-Greenhill, E. (2000) Museums and the Interpretation of Visual Culture, Objects and Interpretive Processes: 103 – 123. London: Routledge
Hoskins, J. (1998) Biographical Objects. London: Routledge
Merleau-Ponty, M. (1962) Phenomenology of Perception. Oxon: Routledge
Parker, C. (2010) youtube. [available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64WRqHoKM5s&feature=player-embedded].[accessed on 28/04/10].
Please join StudyMode to read the full document