SMArt Talks: Sculpture and the Haptic Imagination
21 November 2023
6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
- Hans Belting Library, building K, Veveří 28, Brno
The following SMArt Talks will welcome an honoured guest, the University of Oxford Professor and a Fellow of St Edmund Hall, Jason Gaiger! Prof. Gaiger's talk will be dedicated to imaginative engagement with artworks and the role of the so-called 'haptic imagination' not only in encounters with representational sculptural objects but abstract art, too.
Lessing’s account of the ‘free play’ of the viewer’s imagination in his Laocoön: on the Limits of Poetry and Painting (1766) is clearly in tension with his attempt to establish medium-specific restrictions on poetry and painting, for the greater the reach of our imaginative capacities, the less the artist is constrained by the inherent features of her chosen medium. In particular, the claim that painting and sculpture as spatial arts are not equipped to sustain the kind of sequential understanding required for the comprehension of a temporal process is undermined by his recognition that the viewer can imaginatively reconstruct the preceding and succeeding stages that lead up to and follow from the depicted moment. Through close examination of a range of relevant examples, I show that the resulting account of imaginative engagement is not restricted to representational art forms such as figurative painting and sculpture but that – suitably adapted – it can also be extended to include fully abstract sculptural objects, and that here, too, what I term the ‘haptic imagination’ has a vital role to play insofar as it is responsive to an overtly temporal structure that is internal to the work itself.