15 June 2011

More questions

1) How large a role does personal perception play in abstraction? Culture and individual preferences/experiences influence our understanding of the abstract, but to what extent?

2) Related to the first question: Is it possible to be truly objective? On page 162 of Visual Thinking Arnheim discusses the notion that scientific papers might be a total shame because there is no way to approach a subject without having preconceived ideas about it. So the question is this: Is the process of abstracting such a fundamental part of our conscious that we are unable to shut it off?

3) Arnheim discusses the notion of abstraction in generalizations on page 157. He discusses theory that we categorizes into generals made up of particulars of a subject, but there seem to be an infinite variety of ways to categorize things. Later on page 160 he quotes a chicken and egg scenario for abstraction, quoting Henri Bergson “In order to generalize on must first abstract, but in order to abstract usefully one must know how to generalize.” So which comes first, the abstraction or the generalization, or are they one and the same?

4) In Arnheim’s discussion of what the abstract is or is not, it becomes clear that there may not be a clear line that defines the concrete from the abstract. So how is it determined, where on the gradient between concrete and abstract is the tipping point?

5) I think a great example of following the concrete to the abstract is the work of the De Stijl painter Mondrian. On this website his paintings are shown from early on as a direct representation of a tree to an abstraction of it and beyond. I didn’t really pay too much attention to the text on the page; it was just a good one that had all the images in one place. At what point in the sequence do you think the notion of a tree was lost? Do the simple line paintings at towards the end still carry any abstract meaning, or are they just lines?


pbakku said...

1.) I look to the powerful abstraction of brand the companies they represent.
Just as Congress acts as an abstract representative to the people, a corporate logo of a brand name is an umbrella for a large organizations. Today these brands are carefully honed represent a story with connotations based upon a priori experiences. These experiences are implanted into the minds by a barrage of unique advertising in print, audio, and video. The advertisements become filed and organized in the subconscious and theoretically resurface when a particular want or need is desired which may pertain to that brand's particular product. Often the abstraction of a company will resurface in the form of a logo, laced with positive messages.
The tobacco company Phillip Morris
recently renamed its company to Altria. It did so, in that it's company name had developed an unshakable stigma for a litany of negative reason. Little do many people know is that this one large brand sells much more than tobacco so its many other markets were being effected. The word Altria itself is an abstraction. A word which phonetically distills the corporate identity into that of something generic and neutral. A name void of surname to no face can be attached. A name cloaked in ambiguity to attract no attention.

pbakku said...

Our lecture yesterday discussing Picasso's Bull, I felt was summarized by Susanne K. Langer in Arnhiem's "What Abstraction is not."

The abstraction of form here achieved is probably not made by comparison of several examples as the classical British empiricists assumed. nor by repeated impressions reinforcing the engram. as a more modern psychology proposes but is derived from some single instance under proper conditions ofimagimuive r~adi.
ness; where upon the visual form. once abstracted. is imposed on other actualities that is. used interpretively wherever it will serve and as long as it will serve.
Gradually under the influence of other interpretive possibilities. it may be merged and modified. or suddenly discarded. succeeded by a more convincing or more
promising gestalt.

This process also begins to appear in an interview with
Richard Serra, Chuck Close where they describe their process and creative development which has allowed their generation to create the unfamiliar from the familiar.

Charlie Rose Brain Series Episode Twelve: