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Closing reflections on mimeticism: Colin Lyas on representation. From Colin Lyas. Chap. 3, “Nature’s Mirror.” Aesthetics. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997. Representation remains commonplace Why are representative images so powerful? 1. Inadequate senses of representation

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Closing reflections on mimeticism colin lyas on representation
Closing reflections on mimeticism:Colin Lyas on representation

  • From Colin Lyas. Chap. 3, “Nature’s Mirror.” Aesthetics. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997.

  • Representation remains commonplace

  • Why are representative images so powerful?

  • 1. Inadequate senses of representation

    • (1) Representation as imitating

      • What does Lyas mean by imitation?

Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 1


Closing reflections on mimeticism colin lyas on representation1
Closing reflections on mimeticism:Colin Lyas on representation

  • Lyas’s objection to representation as imitation: little of art is mere imitation

  • trompe l’oeil

    • Unswept Dining Room Floor

    • Ken Davies, The Ken Davies Trompe

  • anamorphosis

    • Holbein the Younger, The Ambassadors

    • - detail

Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 2


Closing reflections on mimeticism colin lyas on representation2
Closing reflections on mimeticism:Colin Lyas on representation

  • (2) Representation as copying

    • How does Lyas distinguish between imitating and copying?

    • Any position which holds that the copy is an exact replica assumes a view from nowhere (39).

    • Comment: but does it?

Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 3


Closing reflections on mimeticism colin lyas on representation3
Closing reflections on mimeticism:Colin Lyas on representation

  • Ernst Gombrich & Nelson Goodman’s critique of the copying model

    • The creation of works of art is always as much making as it is re-presenting

Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 4


Closing reflections on mimeticism colin lyas on representation4
Closing reflections on mimeticism:Colin Lyas on representation

  • Lyas’s first conclusion: Representation in art is not principally about imitating & definitely not about copying.

  • 2. Can the mimetic theory fit all art?

    • Abstract art, much of music & dance?

    • Response: But even non-representational art has some representational elements.

  • Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 5


    Closing reflections on mimeticism colin lyas on representation5
    Closing reflections on mimeticism:Colin Lyas on representation

    • And what about photography?

      • Roger Scruton’s suggestion

    • What about fiction?

      • Lyas’s “as if” suggestion

    Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 6


    Closing reflections on mimeticism colin lyas on representation6
    Closing reflections on mimeticism:Colin Lyas on representation

    • 3. Other critiques of representational art

      • Clive Bell’s critique of representational art

        • In works of art, representation is always irrelevant; form is all that counts

      • Lyas’s response to Bell

        • We often see form through representation

    Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 7


    Closing reflections on mimeticism colin lyas on representation7
    Closing reflections on mimeticism:Colin Lyas on representation

    • Form & representation are intertwined.

  • But Bell’s critique of representational has some value

    • It proposes that we should not look at works of art as surrogates for the real thing; when art is representational, it must have some other function.

  • Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 8


    Closing reflections on mimeticism colin lyas on representation8
    Closing reflections on mimeticism:Colin Lyas on representation

    • 4. Lyas’s position on the value of representation in art. Is he saying that this is what representational art is really about?

      • delight in the act of imitating itself

        • Our attention in a representational work of art is [should be] on the act of imitating itself--the skill & the imagination which it requires (53).

    Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 9


    Closing reflections on mimeticism colin lyas on representation9
    Closing reflections on mimeticism:Colin Lyas on representation

    • Delight in the wit & cleverness of imitation

      • Rene Magritte’s Cette n’est pas une pipe CHECK

      • trompe l’oeil

    • An effective way of expressing emotions

    Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 10


    Closing reflections on mimeticism colin lyas on representation10
    Closing reflections on mimeticism:Colin Lyas on representation

    • Comments

      • Is Lyas an essentialist with respect to constructing a theory of art? (See Lyas 103-104)

      • Does Lyas reject representation as the essence of art?

    Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 11


    Closing reflections on mimeticism gombrich wilde lyas
    Closing reflections on mimeticism: Gombrich, Wilde, & Lyas

    • Virtues of representation

      • delight in skill

      • vehicle for expressing feelings & emotions

    Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 12


    Closing reflections on mimeticism gombrich wilde lyas1
    Closing reflections on mimeticism: Gombrich, Wilde, & Lyas

    • The Aesthetic Movement

      • Wilde’s position on the autonomy of art reflects an intellectual movement in 19th century France & England called Aestheticism or the Aesthetic Movement

      • Roots in France in the 1820s - Théophile Gautier, Baudelaire, and later Flaubert.

    Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 13


    Closing reflections on mimeticism gombrich wilde lyas2
    Closing reflections on mimeticism: Gombrich, Wilde, & Lyas

    • Earliest & most uncompromising version

      • Works of art should be judged only by internal standards

      • Any external purpose or function which art may serve should be counted as a defect

    Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 14


    Closing reflections on mimeticism gombrich wilde lyas3
    Closing reflections on mimeticism: Gombrich, Wilde, & Lyas

    • And art is the cause, the substratum, of all else (Walter Pater & Wilde’s version)

      • For Walter Pater, aesthetic values are primary and override all other value, even moral ones.

      • The aesthetic quest is the highest way of life a human can follow

    Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 15


    Closing reflections on mimeticism gombrich wilde lyas4
    Closing reflections on mimeticism: Gombrich, Wilde, & Lyas

    • Wilde - “People will give mup war when they consider it to be vulgar instead of wicked.”

    • Wilde - it is better to be beautiful than to be good.

    Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 16


    Closing reflections on mimeticism gombrich wilde lyas5
    Closing reflections on mimeticism: Gombrich, Wilde, & Lyas

    • More moderate version

      • Although art of an earlier time may have been utilitarian, these works may today be taken as pure aesthetic objects

      • A work of art should be valued for its purely internal & aesthetic qualities & not for its relationship to anything external

    Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 17


    Closing reflections on mimeticism gombrich wilde lyas6
    Closing reflections on mimeticism: Gombrich, Wilde, & Lyas

    • What are some of these internal qualities? Elegance, grace, balance, harmony, expressiveness, depth, atmostphere.

  • Critique

    • Aestheticisms position on the evaluation & appreciation of art is too restrictive

      • E.g., Appreciating a Gothic cathedral

  • Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 18


    Closing reflections on mimeticism gombrich wilde lyas7
    Closing reflections on mimeticism: Gombrich, Wilde, & Lyas

    • What justification is there for making the aesthetic the basic causal factor and evaluative standard for everything else?

    Closing reflections on mimeticism - Lyas - chap. 2 - slide 19


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