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Monday, 30 November 2015

Theory - Essay Tutorial Notes from conversation with Dr Mike Belshaw.

Having read the 7th draft of my essay, regarding affect theory and grief and loss in the work of the new European artists, Dr Belshaw recommended a number of interesting avenues for me to explore further.

  • Read the work by Giles Deleauze on Francis Bacon (emphasis on the body) in this work, Bacon draws animals but also Deleauze talks about Bacon and how he "paints as an animal". The interesting point is that he created images which diminish the head of the animal in favour of the body.
  • Look at the things that Delauze recognises in the paintings of Bacon.
  • What we are trying to achieve in an academic essay is to look at how the dissertation provides new information. In other words how does my essay provides new information in how it relates to contemporary art in general.

The Affective Turn…

 This heading is a reminder to specifically make the case for grief through affect much more emphasised.

  • Dr Belshaw commented that from the 1960s onwards there has been a linguistic pull on artists critique, this is as a result of many of those artists having read the works of Wittgenstein
  • Wittgenstein would say that an experience is in effect, memorised or stored in the soul linguistically. 
  • However Deleauze would say that there is a radical alternative to the work of Spinoza. 
  • He calls it a pre-personal experience. These pre-personal experiences are outside the body and they are autonomous from our own internal memories and feelings.
  • See the work of Brian Massumi to backup this claim.

Are artists conscious of affect before they create their own paintings?

  • It is Dr Belshaw's assertion that arguably they are not, otherwise they would be in a way, faking it. This idea of faking affect flies in the face of the whole theory.
  • However I pointed out that by continuing to stay in the mode of creation and to just keep creating and creating, this is often referred to in artistic circles as research through practice. 
  • We are continuing to make stuff and researching through our practice of creating stuff in the search for affect.

Perhaps in this essay, in studying art itself what could back this up?

  • I need to look at a particular painting (perhaps not chosen directly by myself of course) in order to make a case to say that it is successful because of affect. 
  • I'm confident that the work of Gerhardt Richter will provide a number of avenues, and paintings, which are being studied by other validated sources to back up the claims of affect.
  • Dr Belshaw agreed that my choice of using Gerhardt Richter as one of the artists to analyse was potentially a an excellent choice.

Another book suggested by Dr Belshaw was "the subjects of art history" by Wolfgang Kemp and in particular his ideas on "Reception Theory"

Conclusions: - 

There are 2 things to consider and deal with, within the essay regarding affect.

  • A) how does one create affect within a painting?
    •  Perhaps the answer lies here in research through practice?
  • B) how do we recognise affect? 
    • And who are the validated and eminent academics who have done this?

Again the works of Gerhardt Richter are very good source for me to use for this.

Moving on to tying the idea of affect with grief and loss, an area of particularly interesting exploration might be the mental confused state of "being" and "not being".

  • Ultimately this is in other words confusion. 
  • Does that mean that confusion is an affect? 
  • Or perhaps a better way of putting this might be does affect cause confusion?

I need to make explicit statements why grief and loss can be associated with affect!

  • What are the references? 
  • I need to make a case that is extremely strong here.

Still yet to do is to read Brian Massumi's paper regarding autonomy in affect.

A thread that keeps coming up throughout my essay already is the idea of the pre-personal.

  • However I need to emphasise that the pre-personal is at the root of affect because whilst there are subtle inferences to it within the essay, it needs to be more explicitly stated that affect is external and autonomous.
  • For example in Frederick Nietzsche's "will to power" the will in itself is actually external and outside the body. It is not about willpower of an individual and this can seem confusing in itself.

Again re-emphasise grief through affect, this is what I'm trying to prove in this essay. Grief is an affect, prove it!


  • Explore this much further particularly with regards to grief and loss. 
  • Can I make a case that grief is part of the confusion or is confusion a result of grief and loss?
  •  I think the latter, the grief provides confusion?

See also other artists in western contemporary art such as Rachel Whiteread and her example of the Jewish library. Within this image the books on the shelves of the library are actually facing outwards but they are indexical moulds, as a negative object.

  • Therefore it touches on the presence and absence. 
  • This is related to Hiedegger and the present and non-present idea, the broken hammer example…
  • See how I can use this idea of presence and absence in the works of Anselm Kiefer in addition to Gerhardt Richter.
  • Richter's painting called "city life" is all about the idea of blanking something out. Within it is taken a photograph and then painted old over it, a photograph being a city landscape and the paint, well this is used to come found the idea that normally, a stroke of paint is considered as part of something that is representational, whereas in this particular works it can also be used in order to blank something out. 
  • When painting is used to blank something out then other things can be shown…

Whilst I have mentioned Bracha Lichtenberg Ettinger briefly in the essay before, I have not yet studied her works. She is of particular interest to at the moment because she also looks at the idea of presence and absence.

Finally after some discussion it was agreed that a small section should be included in the essay on the post-war German culture. This would be interesting and useful as a reference point within the introduction.

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