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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

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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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