Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

Art Practice as Prosthetic Visuality

Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

Art Practice as Prosthetic Visuality

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes "strike-through" in the original text omitted.)

The possibility of making the invisible visible, of giving presence to what can only be imagined, is repeatedly stated as the main function of art.

- Paul de Man, 1983, p. 124

The paradox of seeing is that the more forcefully I try to see, the more blind I become.

-James Elkins, 1996, p. 210

Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?

- Groucho Marx

...was I there, I was, and... and I saw it, saw it... witnessed with my eyes, with my own eyes... did I see what I, what I was looking at... did I see what I, what I thought I saw, had my eyes deceived me... did what I see really happen... did it really happen and I saw it, but did not see. .. just as I am seeing, yet not seeing the words as I write them, about what I saw... just as you, the reader may see what I saw as you read the words that I have written on this page. . . these words prospecting the Ineffable., .blind spots are gaining visibility, vaguely revealing events, flitting as they, as they appear before my mind's eye. . .I was there I tell you, I am there and, in the. . ... ... ...

... ...


...opening my eyes, I see father reaching down to help me up from under the table, to "sit down for our morning meal," he says calmly,"before I leave for work and you walk to school," he says... nothing, nothing else was said, yet not saying is saying a lot under the circumstances, not seeing is seeing a lot, not understanding is understanding a lot ... the aftermath of the "B-B-B-B-Bomb," a wounding, fragmenting perception and memory,1 averted attention ... lacunas, blindspots, gaps, aporias, craters of seeing and not seeing remain of the incident at Yucca Flats at 37° 4' 7'' latitude, 207.6 miles as the crow flies from where I was sitting tying my shoes ... like the wound St. Thomas the Apostle probes with his index finger to confirm or refute the immortality of the Christ's body, his survey of that wound in the body of an Other, averting viewers', our gaze, toward and through the focal point of Caravaggio's painting,2 and through his canvas ... raising doubt about the veracity of vision and visuality, a questioning of representation that cuts, opens, and folds the historical body of art back onto itself. Similar uncertainty lingered In the hallway as I was tying my shoes next to the kitchen where father was preparing breakfast ... the less I focus the more I see ... I'm reminded of my habit of blinking, a tic that coincidently developed back then ... my eyes stammering, my mouth blinking ... Jasper Johns' The Critic Sees3... seeing and saying complicated as my eyelids involuntarily oscillate up and down, FLASH-ing fragmentations and discontinuities of perception and memory whenever I get excited or anxious, up and down, open yet shut, enabling a seeing without seeing, a remembering that comes from forgetting, and an understanding from mis-understanding, a FLASH come and gone in the blink of an eye. . .

The narrative that you just read is about a bedazzling spectacle that I witnessed during my youth in the early 1950s. The magnitude of the event, 5.0 on the Richter Scale, so overpowered and captivated my attention that all else including my body blurred and receded into the background of my consciousness. Given my naivete, the apocalyptic fallout from the sublime spectacle only became evident as I overheard my parents and teachers' discreet and worried conversations about the B-BB-B-Bomb. If "to see is always to see more than one sees," as phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty (1968, p. 247) claims, then why is it that most often we do not see what we are looking at or thinking about?

In this article I will discuss the significance of lacunas, blindspots, gaps, aporias of perception and memory, those anomalous spaces of learning (Ellsworth, 2005) where collateral discourse (Leverette, 2008) can occur between the visible and invisible in art practice and research. …

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