Renato Giuseppe Bertelli, Continuous Profile (Head of Mussolini)/, 1933, courtesy of Imperial War Museum
cognitive dissonance, intellectual uncertainty, familiarity and strangeness
Defamiliarization or ostranenie (остранение) is the artistic technique of presenting to audiences common things in an unfamiliar or strange way, in order to enhance perception of the familiar. A central concept in 20th-century art and theory, ranging over movements including Dada, postmodernism, epic theatre, and science fiction, it is also used as a tactic by recent movements such as culture jamming.
Defamiliarization of that which is or has become familiar or taken for granted, hence automatically perceived, is the basic function of all devices. And with defamiliarization come both the slowing down and the increased difficulty (impeding) of the process of reading and comprehending and an awareness of the artistic procedures (devices) causing them. (Margolin 2005)
The term “defamiliarization” was first coined in 1917 by Viktor Shklovsky in his essay “Art as Device” (alternate translation: “Art as Technique”) (Crawford 209). Shklovsky invented the term as a means to “distinguish poetic from practical language on the basis of the former’s perceptibility” (Crawford 209). Essentially, he is stating that poetic language is fundamentally different than the language that we use every day because it is more difficult to understand: “Poetic speech is framed speech. Prose is ordinary speech – economical, easy, proper, the goddess of prose [dea prosae] is a goddess of the accurate, facile type, of the “direct” expression of a child” (Shklovsky 20). This difference is the key to the creation of art and the prevention of “over-automatization,” which causes an individual to “function as though by formula” (Shklovsky 16). This distinction between artistic language and everyday language, for Shklovsky, applies to all artistic forms:
The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects ‘unfamiliar,’ to make forms difficult to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged. (Shklovsky 16)
Thus, defamiliarization serves as a means to force individuals to recognize artistic language:
In studying poetic speech in its phonetic and lexical structure as well as in its characteristic distribution of words and in the characteristic thought structures compounded from the words, we find everywhere the artistic trademark – that is, we find material obviously created to remove the automatism of perception; the author’s purpose is to create the vision which results from that deautomatized perception. A work is created “artistically” so that its perception is impeded and the greatest possible effect is produced through the slowness of the perception. (Shklovsky 19)
This technique is meant to be especially useful in distinguishing poetry from prose, for, as Aristotle said, “poetic language must appear strange and wonderful” (Shklovsky 19).
Vanessa Place: Poetry and the Conceptualist Period by Andrea Quaid Andrea Quaid and Vanessa Place on the simultaneity, reflection, and transformation of conceptualism.
AQ Conceptual writing, which often uses and re-purposes already existent text, constructing rather than composing, appears to enter a conversation predicated on categories of the copy and the simulacrum. And yet, it seems that conceptual writing’s appropriations work otherwise?
VP Because there is no copy or simulacrum, simply simultaneity. Not of events, which presupposes temporality, or, as George Eliot might say, beginnings, middles, and ends, but of points, which are also spatial. Points of caption, as it were. Postmodernism was very concerned with a managed chaos, disorder put to right ends. Conceptualism is disinterested in ends, except as terminal. The stuff of conceptualism, the textual thing, is the most static of objects, inert, inutile. Dead as a doorknob. Its representations are radical mimesis because they do not represent, just present. Yesterday’s news, the tiny tragedies of today.
AQ Current theoretical work seeking to address postmodernism’s perceived impasses focuses a new or renewed attention to questions of affect, embodiment and materiality. Much of this work tries to understand what is different about our contemporary now by engaging categories that postmodern analytics overlooks or casts aside. How are these discrete but associated discourses at work in conceptual writing?
VP One begins with a definition of conceptualism as writing which does not direct its reception. This shifts the locus of the work to its recipient, necessarily embodied, necessarily affected. What is boredom, after all, if not maximal minimal affect? The question of materiality is closer here to a medieval notion of materialism in which the highest form of materiality is that which is transformed by nothing but the divino spiritu—such as the Eucharist. These categories are no longer so discrete as each becomes not inherent in the stuff, but one of its categorical imperatives.
Poet and criminal defense attorney Vanessa Place earned a BA at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, an MFA at Antioch University, and a JD at Boston University.
In her conceptual poetry, Place explores the impact of context and expectation. In a 2010 interview for Lemon Hound, Place has quoted Marcel Duchamp, “It’s not what you see that is art, art is the gap.” In a 2013 Tarpaulin Sky interview with Eireene Nealand, Place stated, “The law, like poetry, engages in grossly overt fashion with the transformation of the real into the symbolic via a kind of Eucharistic metamorphosis. Worked, like some might argue the spiritus sanctus works, by way of words. Words, as many have noted, never quite fit. But they will do.”
Vanessa Place : Poetry Foundation
This morning I read an interview with Jake Chapman in issue 1 Papers on Surrealism. Interesting paper that needs a separate post.
Bataille, Tears of Eros and death by a thousand cuts.
Slow slicing (simplified Chinese: 凌迟; traditional Chinese: 凌遲; pinyin: língchí; Wade–Giles: ling-ch'ih, alternately transliterated ling chi or leng t'che), also translated as the slow process, the lingering death, anddeath by a thousand cuts (simplified Chinese: 杀千刀; traditional Chinese: 殺千刀) or “千刀万剐”, was a form of torture and execution used in China from roughly AD 900 until it was banned in 1905. In this form of execution, a knife was used to methodically remove portions of the body over an extended period of time, eventually leading to death.
I looked for an image knowing I didn't want it.
I will never unknow this image.
It's not just that someone did this to another person. People did this to people in public for a thousand years. Because is was only banned in 1905 there appear to be some photographs.
The discussion of this is problematic. Wreaks dinner parties. Leaves nothing to be said.
Given the difficulty of direct language, could art create a visual (or audio) representation that can somehow embody the feeling to allow for the start of an exchange?
Families in Toraja in South Sulawesi dig up the bodies of their dead relatives before washing, grooming and dressing them in fancy new clothes. Damaged coffins are fixed or replaced, and the mummies are then walked around the province by following a path of straight lines. The ritual is called Ma'nene, or The Ceremony of Cleaning Corpses.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2745169/Zombie-chic-Indonesian-village-Toraja-s-bizarre-annual-ritual-Ceremony-Cleaning-Corpses-MaiNene.html#ixzz3JMrN55A3
I wonder what notion, if any, this society has of the 'uncanny'.
churel - In India, a ghost of a woman who died in childbirth or ceremonial impurity. Originally a churel was a ghost of low caste, whose corpse was buried face down to prevent the ghost from escaping. They have reversed feet and no mouth. They haunt squalid places. They can take the shape of beautiful young women in order to ensnare unsuspecting men ad hold them captive until they are old. Areas believed to be haunted by churel are given exorcisms.
In other regions of India their idea of the churel wasn’t so attractive… not even a little bit. This form of churel is absolutely horrible looking. She is always naked and has a black tongue, big gross lips, long sagging boobs, huge sharp teeth, messy dirty hair, a potbelly, long unkempt pubic hair, a pig’s face and claw-like hands. Yea, ugly as hell. This kind of churel lurks in cemeteries, hiding in tombs, coming out to attack those that lived nearby
Continuing to consider the content of Guy Claxton's 'The Wayward Mind', here are some more well entries from 'Strange Mythology and Folklore.
ba- In ancient Egyptian mythology, the vehicle of ascent for after death conciousness. The term ba is often translated as vital force or soul but is a complex concept. According to the Book of the Dead, after death the ba rose up out of the body to regard the corpse. Even though it was drawn toward heaven, it depended for its self conciousness on maintaing a relationship with the body. The body had to remain intact in order for the ba to return to it, Ultimately the ba has to liberate itself from the shadow of the tomb so that it could fully enter the heavenly light. portrayed as having a flacons body with a human head.
The Ancient Egyptians believed that a human soul was made up of five element, which is Ren (name), Ba (individual personality), Ka (life force), Sheut (shadow), and Ib (heart).
Ba is one of the important part of the human soul, that makes an individual unique, similar to the notion of ‘personality’ or ‘the person’s individuality’. Egyptian believed that, the ‘Ba’ as an aspect of a soul would live after the body died, and it is sometimes depicted as a human-headed bird flying out of the tomb to join with the ‘Ka’ in the afterlife.
compiled by Angela L. MISSPI
Claxton suggests that the ancient Egyptian Ba is the conceptual precursor to the contemporary notion of the unconscious.