The Image is a Moment – the art of the visual encounter

This paper examines the relationship between time, vision and experience through a discussion of temporality, art and technology. Aiming to disrupt conventional readings of time, it discusses how time is experienced in relation to ‘the artistic encounter’; asking how encounters with artworks might affect – or be affected by – perceptions of time. It addresses the possibility that different technologies are capable of exploiting or mediating an experience of ‘the image’ (a term which we interpret broadly to incorporate different types of encounter), subsequently impacting upon its ability to affect the viewer in a specific moment. It addresses these ideas in relation to the notion of a temporal-spatial moment of encounter with a latent image (what Nicolas Bourriaud calls ‘a moment M of the real’), and in relation to the ‘specious present’ as originally conceptualised by William James, in which he explores the individual’s subjective experience of the duration of the lived moment.

The ‘technologies’ to which we refer incorporate those mechanisms which serve to either augment or virtualise an encounter; technologies which have the potential to work on a mass media expanded scale, but, from a museological perspective, also operate as ‘technologies’ of seeing. In the context of this paper, the artwork itself – the way its material properties, manner of display, and conceptual underpinning work in relation to a viewer and their perceptions of it – might be considered a ‘technology’ in itself.

These ideas are contextualised through a series of artworks that seek to challenge conventional assumptions of time-based experience. In discussing these works, the concept of the specious present is considered as an influencing factor in ‘real-time’ perception for each work; in that both human experience of time and technology-mediated time serve to influence the latent image encounter.

The paper concludes with a discussion about the individual’s perception of the image, and the ways in which its latency is influenced by both technological and time-related perspectives, and through which creative processes of engagement might be realised.



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