Saturday, August 25, 2007


Sensation lies at the interface of the world as given and the moment of perception, the moment of being-in-the-world, save only that it is not (yet) a matter of being but of the mutual becoming of sensory apparatus and the manifold, a chill moment of whatever we might call the opposite of recognition. Aesthesis as sensation is prior to perception (which is far closer to recognition, the typical, indeed the ordinary, and to that extent the ideological hypostasis of the manifold as a collection of givens). The task of specifically aesthetic perception is to distinguish not the banal, but such factors as the dimensional, material, energetic or informational qualities of both what is sensed and of the act of sensing. This implies an estrangement (ostranenie) in the objectivation of objects, a Peircean firstness equally engaged by aesthetic, scientific and philosophical endeavours which share this process of making-virtual from the raw material of space-time, matter-energy, entropy and emergence.

This is the kind of look at the world which fails to recognise it, and in that moment of confusion discovers the radical alterity of the sensory moment of aesthesis, the privileged moment at which world (inclusive of social and communications worlds) and sensorium interact and are for that brief moment as one. Actualisation of the virtual that occurs in the aesthetic work is that discovery of the discrete tendencies of the phenomenon, distinguishing its qualities, not necessarily to name them but to translate into other materials, a process which can be clearly seen in Pisarro's canvases, where each dab of colour corresponds to a fragment of the real scene. Much of this process of translation is however rule-governed, and those rules themselves inscribed into the technological capabilities of the devices to hand – palette, lens, film stock etc – and of the inevitable presence of the perceiver.

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