Conceptual Aerobics Exercise I:
To un-socialize the socialized eye
This execise is intended to make apparent the"screen of signs" that are imposed on our vision through various socialization processes. In his article entitled The Gaze in the Expanded Field, the writer Norman Bryson discusses various aspects of the socialization process of our vision, and also points out that they are culturally specific. After we have identified some instances of socialized vision in action within Western culture, we will take alternative actions to "un socialize" our eyes and attempt to establish a connection with the present tense of unmediated, un socialized vision.
The following excerpt is taken from Normal Bryson's article entitled The Gaze in the Expanded Field.
"For human beings collectively to orchestrate their visual experience together it is required that each submit his or her retinal experience to the socially agreed descriptions(s) of an intelligible world. Vision is socialized, and thereafter deviation from this social construction of visual reality can be measured and named, variously, as hallucination, misrecognition, or "visual disturbance." Between the subject and the world is inserted the entire sum of discourses which make up visuality, that cultural construct, and make visuality different from vision, the notion of unmediated visual experience. Between retina and world is inserted a screen of signs, a screen consisting of all the multiple discourses on vision built into the social arena."
I will guide you through this exercise. You will need a surface to draw on and a writing/drawing instrument.
> socialized vision, visual habits, visual literacy
> opening the senses: considering the senses before and after they are socialized ("visuality" vs "vision")
> exploring our field of vision and un-mediated perception
> synesthesia, one sense organ activated by another
Visual habits, framing through the oculus.
Be prepared to discuss your observations in clas next week.
On an 8 1/2 X 11 piece of white cardboard, cut an oculus in the middle of the page that is a vertical rectangle 2 inches high and 1 and 1/2 inches wide. The proportions should be roughly the same as that of a conventional television set, the 4:3 ratio, (horizontal rectangle). During the coming week take your oculus with you where ever you go and use it to frame your view. As you are framing and composing these "shots" be looking for specific examples of socialized vision and the visual habits (discussed in class) you come across at home and in public spaces. Take particular notice of the site/context where you observe these examples of socialized vision. Write down you observations in your sketchbook. Be prepared to discuss your observations in class next week. You will use this oculus throughout the semester so bring it to every class.