Compositional Risks Essays

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In fact, they may even prove most suited to establish the kind of space that comes close to this multi-threaded, embodied Denkraum.

In order to illustrate this, we would like to present a case study, a short visual ‘essay’ (however, since the scope of four spreads offers only limited space, it is better to consider it as the image-equivalent of a short research note).

Art is thus able to take into account (and to explore) many other different meaningful aspects of our human relationship with the environment and thus provide us with a supplementary form of knowledge.

Hence Ingold’s remark in the introduction of Making: anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture (2013): ‘Could certain practices of art, for example, suggest new ways of doing anthropology?

Here, we believe that a clear distinction between art and artistic research is necessary.

The artistic imaginary is a reaction to the environment in which the artist finds himself: this reaction does not have to be conscious and deliberate.This process opens up, to borrow a term used by Aby Warburg, a ‘Denkraum’ (cf. 224): it creates a critical distance from the environment, including the environment of the artwork itself: this ‘space for thought’ allows one to consciously explore a specific problem.Consciously here does not equal cerebral: the problem is explored not only in its intellectual, but also in its sensual and emotional, affective aspects.Likewise, the beholder or the reader of a work of art does not need to learn from it to appreciate it.No doubt, he may have gained some understanding about ‘human existence’ after reading a novel or visiting an exhibition, but without the need to spell out this knowledge or to further explore it.Here, we set out to defend the visual essay as a useful tool to explore the non-conceptual, yet meaningful bodily aspects of human culture, both in the still developing field of artistic research and in more established fields of research.It is a genre that enables us to articulate this knowledge, as a transformative process of meaning-making, supplementing other modes of inquiry in the humanities.In Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description (2011), Tim Ingold defines anthropology as ‘a sustained and disciplined inquiry into the conditions and potentials of human life’ (Ingold, 2011, p. For Ingold, artistic practice plays a crucial part in this inquiry.He considers art not merely as a potential object of historical, sociological or ethnographic research, but also as a valuable form of anthropological inquiry itself, providing supplementary methods to understand what it is ‘to be human’.But while they can indeed be seen as explorations of the ‘conditions and potentials of human life’, the artworks themselves do not make this knowledge explicit.What is lacking here is the logos of anthropology, logos in the sense of discourse, a line of reasoning.


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