Art and bodily experience

The concept of this seminar is related to the pragmatist intuition of William James, taken up by John Dewey that the mind depends on the body which is, in the words of Richard Shusterman, “the eye of the cyclone, the origin of the coordinates, the place which is constantly emphasized in [our] experience” because “the world we experience comes up at all times with our body as center, center of vision, center of action, center of interest” (William James, « L’expérience de l’activité », dans Id., Essais d’empirisme radical. Marseille, Agone (2005) . Rodin’s Thinker, using muscular tension, and a movement towards the inner self –the mouth biting the bent hand, as a metaphor of the tension of the mind at work (the work depicts Dante, leaning forward to observe the circles of Hell meditating on his work) offers a striking illustration of these theories. The seminar will focus on the relation between the body and mind both in language (theme1) looking at metaphorical traces of body orientation and biological dynamics and in visual works (them 2) looking at notions of empathy, mirror neurons, engram, semantic marker of emotions, kinesthesia, art and desire (to know, to be powerful, to exist as a subject …). The main theoretical supports are phenomenology (Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Gallagher) and pragmatism (the notion of agency, subjective power postulated by John Dewey, George Mead, and soma-aesthetic by Richard Shusterman) as well as theories of performativity that emphasize the vital issues for the individual to resist norms. Neuroscience’s contribution to understanding the neural link between self-awareness and movement (movement of the artist, movement of the viewer) will also be examined. The Asian perspective on gesture, body and gender in daily life and art, will be addressed. Practical cases will deal with poetic and literary creation, dance, music, visual arts, architecture and mediation, especially in museums.


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