August 17, 2006

Discursive Practice and the Positivity of Knowledge



“In analysing a painting, one can reconstitute the latent discourse of the painter; one can try to recapture the murmur of his intentions, which are not transcribed into words, but into lines, surfaces, and colours; one can try to uncover the implicit philosophy that is supposed to form his view of the world. It is also possible to question science, or at least the opinions of the period, and to try to recognize to what extent they appear in the painter’s work. Archaeological analysis would have another aim: it would try to discover whether space, distance, depth, colour, light, proportions, volumes, and contours were not, at the period in question, considered, named, enunciated, and conceptualized in a discursive practice; and whether the knowledge that this discursive practice gives rise to was not embodied perhaps in theories and speculations, in forms of teaching and codes of practice, but also in processes, techniques, and even in the very gesture of the painter. It would not set out to show that the painting is a certain way of ‘meaning’ or ‘saying’ that is peculiar in that it dispenses with words. It would try to show that, at least in one of its dimensions, it is discursive practice that is embodied in techniques and effects. In this sense, the painting is not a pure vision that must then be transcribed into the materiality of space; nor is it a naked gesture whose silent and eternally empty meanings must be freed from subsequent interpretations. It is shot through – and independently of scientific knowledge (connaissance) and philosophical themes – with the positivity of a knowledge (savoir).”

- Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, Pantheon, 1972, pp. 193-194.

Image: Notecard TN3 (Prequel) in studio; © Copyright 2006 by Mark Cameron Boyd. All Rights Reserved.

3 comments:

Shanthi said...

Hi,
I am interested in participating in this discussion. I will try to get the prescribed books this week.

mm said...

Response to Haacke:
I found the idea of artists being pressured to do self-censoring kind of sad. Everything is run by money and it seems only natural that business and marketing specialists at some point would distribute art. I feel it is tragic if in their desperation for money museums and galleries fudge the way they do things (purpose). I do not want to think that this big-timer management of art is making artists also change their ways, but it is ridicules to think a bit of that isn’t happening. It is always nice to have someone who knows what their doing (business) running the venue that deals with the sale of your work, but as cheesy as this sounds, I also want them to have their heart in it…. a true lover of art.

Anonymous said...

I feel that the art world is similar to Hollywood. It is run by money. If you are famous you have pull. its all about who you know. You have to smooze to get your foot in the door. even the most talented people might never get discovered. Its a known fact that Hollywood is currupt. Is it a known fact that the art world is also a currupt system?
Many artists are twisted by the lures of money and fame. They might not even be aware that their art is being effected. THe art starts to become less and less what the artist wanted it to be about and more and more what the buyer or gallery wants the art to be about ( based on what sales).