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CCS 20052006

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Modern scientistic progress - traffic lights and the Davey Lamp ... Philosophies of Existentialism were linked in a way to the idea that, at its ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: CCS 20052006


1
CCS 2005-2006 Mini-programme 1 DR KEN
NEIL PHILOSOPHY IN MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART
PHILOSOPHICAL IDEAS OF MODERNITY SEEN AND
EMBODIED IN ART
2
  • TODAYS FOUR SECTIONS
  • Modern scientistic progress - traffic lights and
    the Davey Lamp
  • Modern objects picture a modern worldview
    Boccioni, Van Gogh.
  • Relativism, Modernism and vectors of alienation
  • Seeing Modernist goals rising above relativist
    philosophies

3
  • 1
  • Modernist progress i
  • The story goes that traffic lights were first
    installed in Europe in 1924, for the extremely
    busy Potsdamer Platz in Berlin.
  • Technology came to the rescue of chaos, and the
    congestion eased.

4
1 In 1812 there was a massive fire-damp
explosion in a mine near Sunderland, caused by
the ignition of gases underground. 92 lost their
lives. To solve the problem of fire-damp
explosions great inventors and scientists were
commissioned by industrialists to devise safety
apparatus. And there was urgency, apart from the
cost in lives, mines needed to be dug deeper to
increase yield.
Modernist progress ii
5
1 1815 - George Stephenson had a prototype
safety lamp which he successfully tested himself.
It became known as the Geordie Lamp. 1816 -
Humphrey Davey devised his version. He tested it
successfully, and claimed a rich bounty from the
competition. The great progression of modern
industry was, then, assisted once more by the
ingenuity of scientists and science.
1 Daveys assistant was Michael Faraday - whose
observations on Daveys work have been famously
recorded I was witness in our laboratory to the
gradual and beautiful development of the train of
thought and the experiments which produced the
lamp.
6
1 These two examples demonstrate the positivist
logic of Modernist thinking - which is founded in
a philosophy of onward social, cultural and
industrial movement, and which has science as its
cutting edge. Modernism rumbled forward into the
20thC on the back of the industrial revolution,
and found continued legitimation at the vanguard
of scientific discoveries - the world was being
revealed by science.
7
1 The movement entitled FUTURISM embraced all of
this technoscientific belief, and preached a
classically Modernist faith which saw art as
inevitably linked to speed, industry, the machine
and concepts of MULTIPLICITY. If Potsdamer Platz
was an urban symbol of modernism and its
multi-directional energy, the Futurist object
embodied that energy - it was a Modernist
philosophical endeavour of a kind, fuelled by
8

Umberto Boccioni The City Rises 1910
9
Umberto Boccioni Elasticity 1912
10
Umberto Boccioni Dynamism of Horse and House
1915
11
Umberto Boccioni Fusion of Head and Window 1910
12
2 Sculpture should give life to objects be
rendering their extension in space palpable,
systematic, and plastic, because no one can deny
any longer that one object continues at the point
another begins, and that everything surrounding
our body (bottle, automobile, house, tree,
street) intersects it and divides it into
sections by forming arabesques of curves and
straight lines. From the Futurist Manifesto of
Sculpture 1912
13
2 With these manifesto statements Boccioni is
effectively applying Einsteinean scientific
revelations to the domain of visual arts new
theories in physics devised in the first decade
of the 20thC by Einstein and Max Planck described
the relativity of space-time, and otherwise
challenged Newtonian versions of understanding
the properties of our world. In Einsteins
Special Theory of Relativity - he explains that
time is not fixed - that it does not flow at a
fixed rate.
14
2 Einstein wrote in his Special Theory of
Relativity Let us imagine a raven flying
through the air in such a manner that its motion,
as observed from the embankment, is uniform and
in a straight line. If we were to observe the
flying raven from the moving railway carriage, we
should find that the motion of the raven would be
one of different velocity and direction, but that
it would still be uniform and in a straight
line.
15
2 In short - Against conventional Newtonian
physics - Einstein was declaring that Velocity
and Direction were dependent on the framework of
the viewer for their determination. So,
certainties as given by Newtonian theories were
rendered RELATIVE.
16
3
Simultaneous perspectives, vectors of energy -
what the Futurists called multiplicity.
17
3
Modern philosophical thinking connected to
aspects of multi-perspectival scientistic
thinking. Philosophies of Existentialism were
linked in a way to the idea that, at its most
basic the world appears differently (its
velocity and its direction) from different
vantage points. Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980) I
have my foundation outside myself. I am for
myself only as I am a pure reference to the
other.
18
3
Vincent Van Gogh Self Portrait 1889
Multiplicity and alienation
19
3
Scientistic progress often masks underlying
causal factors - or, put another way, whose
progress is it?
20
3
So - philosophies couched in relativity and
relativism, or multiplicity and of alienation,
were and are, important aspects of Modernity and
of the avant-garde. These are themes which are
familiar to us through Postmodern discourse - but
the historical distinction is not clear on these
counts, or at least it varies from one vantage
point to the next.
21
4
Lastly - whether Postmodern or Modern -
relativism might be conquered by art as part of a
generally positivist project. The imaginative
discussion about the values of scientific
progress and the cost in terms of alienation is
embodied in the very making of art one could say.
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