Power Point on Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty

Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty
Thingly Art
Fleshly Art
Martin Heidegger
“The Origin of the Work of Art”
The Thinging of Things
“It is mere things, excluding even use-objects,
that count as things in the strict sense. What
does the thingly character of these things
then consist in? It is in reference to these
that the thingness of things must be
determinable.” (pp. 155-56)
Heidegger: “The Thing”
“We are called by the thing as the thing…If
we think of the thing as thing, then we spare
and protect the thing’s presence in the
region from which it presences. Thinging is
the nearing of world…Things are compliant
and modest in number, compared with the
countless objects everywhere of equal
“The equipmental quality of equipment
consists in its usefulness. But what about
this usefulness itself?…The peasant woman
wears her shoes in the field. Only here are
they what they are….That is how shoes
actually serve.”
Thing vs. Device
The Technological Device
• Only a means to an end, an instrument
• No particularity, modular, one is no different from
another, mass produced without handwork
• Mass-produced and modular
• Control of nature and surroundings
• Minimalist and geometric
• Split means from end. I don’t
care how you heat my house, as
long as it is heated.
• The means is machinery that
supplies the end as a
commodity in a safe, easy,
instantaneous and ubiquitous
• The means is concealed and
shrinking, the end is relatively
fixed and expanding.
• The means is unfamiliar, the
end is familiar.
Devices, cont.
• Reduces the world to resources, machinery,
• Disburdens, disengages, distracts. We do many
things but are numb to the actual world
surrounding us. (technological irony or veiling.
• Artificial materials, no sense of earthliness
• Abstract and lacking intimacy; we are indifferent
to its thingliness.
• Examples: stereos, lighting systems, cars, home
videos, stairstep machines.
Thing vs. Device
• Interweave means and ends. I appreciate my clay
raku cup, because the way in which it was made
fits in with my awareness of what it means to
drink from it.
• Gathers and Illuminates the World
• Engages us mentally, physically, socially. We
become heedful of our lives and the world about
• Examples: cellos, mountain paths, canoes,
dramatic performances.
Technological Heedlessness
Technology, even as it multiplies our chances to visit or
learn about the living world, interrupts our actual contact
with it. It makes us heedless of things. Instead of being
attentive to the world, we become preoccupied with the
innumerable devices that technology supplies us. The
natural world only seems meaningful to us, if we can
find a way to explore it with a computer, or a jet ski
or an all terrain vehicle. Weston calls this “veiling.”
When the world is veiled technologically, we no longer
are still enough to let natural beings come forth to teach
us what they are. And we are unable to recognize when
damage to the earth has actually occurred.
Prison Built on a Reclaimed
Filled In Hollow: Is This
Environmental Art? Thingly Art?
The Place of the Work
“Where does a work belong? The work
belongs, as work, uniquely within the realm
that is opened up by itself…In the work
there is a happening of truth at work….We
now ask the question of where to view the
“The temple-work, standing there, opens up a
world and at the same time sets this world
back again on earth, which itself only thus
emerges as native ground….The temple, in
its standing there, first gives to things their
look and to men their outlook upon
themselves. This view remains open as
long as the work is work, as long as the god
has not fled from it.”
The Worlding of World
The work “opens up a world.” Its “installing”
is not “a bare placing” but “erecting in the
sense of dedication and praise.” “By the
opening up of a world, all things gain their
lingering and hastening, their remoteness
and nearness, their scope and limits.”
Robert Smithson
Spiral Jetty
Filled In Hollow: Is This
Environmental Art?
Found Freedom
“I enjoy the freedom of just using my hands
and ‘found’ tools--a sharp stone, the quill of a
feather, thorns. I take the opportunities each
day offers: if it is snowing, I work with snow,
at leaf-fall it will be with leaves; a blown-over
tree becomes a source of twigs and branches. I
stop at a place or pick up a material because I
feel that there is something to be is covered.
Here is where I can learn.”
“I need the shock of touch, the resistance of
place, materials and weather, the earth as my
Maurice Merleau-Ponty
“Eye and Mind”
“Inevitably the roles between the painter and
the visible are reversed. That is why so
many have said that things looks at them…
‘In a forest, I have felt many times over that
it was not I who looked at the forest. Some
days I feel that the trees were looking at me,
were speaking to me…I think that the
painter must be penetrated by the universe
and not want to penetrate it…I expect to be
inwardly submerged, buried. Perhaps I
paint to break out.’”
“The mirror’s ghost lies outside my body, and by the
same token my own body’s ‘invisibility’ can
invest the other bodies I see. Hence my body can
assume segments derived from another, just as my
substance passes into them; man is mirror for man.
The mirror itself is the instrument of a universal
magic that changes things into a spectacle and
spectacle into things, myself into another and
another into myself” (p. 296)
“Things have an internal equivalent in me; they
arouse in me a carnal formula of their presence.
Why shouldn’t these correspondences in their turn
give rise to some external visible shape in which
anyone else would recognize those those motifs
which support his own inspection of the
world….The animals painted on the walls of
Lascaux are not there in the same way as the
fissures and limestone formations. But they are not
elsewhere… I would be at great pains to say
where the painting is that I am looking at” (p.
“Quality, light color, depth, which are there before
us, are there only because they awaken an echo in
our body and because the body welcomes them.”
“Depth is the new inspiration…The enigma consists
in the fact that I see things, each one in its place,
precisely because they eclipse one another, and
that they are are rivals before my sight precisely
because each one is in its own place…Cezanne
…came to find that inside this space (of his
painting), a box or container too large for them,
the things began to move, color against color…We
must seek space and its content as together.”
Da Vinci: “The secret of the art of drawing is
to discover in each object the particular way
in which a certain flexuous line, which is,
so to speak, its generating axis, is directed
through its whole extent.”
M-P: “Neither the contour of the apple nor the
border between the field and meadow is in
this place or that, that they are always on
the near or the far side of the point we look
at…They are indicated, implicated and even
very imperiously demanded by the things,
but they are not themselves things.”
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