Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Reality in the World and Pictures in Our Mind

Professor Reztinger mentioned in Tuesday’s lecture the gap between the pictures in our mind and the “reality” in the outside world. Newspaper tries to serve the function as the bridge between the gap.

It reminds me of an article I recently read, Seeing Without Objects: Visual Indeterminacy and Art (by Robert Pepperell), the author of this article is an indeterminate image artist (see more:, he makes paintings and drawings that are contradictory - “both suggest and deny the presence of objects”, as he believes “there is compelling evidence to suggest that the world itself is quite different from the way we perceive it, and the existence of discrete objects may be attributable to the way we consciously apprehend reality rather than being an intrinsic property of reality itself.” (Pepperell) 

Fragrance (Robert Pepperell) 2005, Oil on canvas, 30cm x 40cm

Paradox 1 (Robert Pepperell) 2005, Oil on panel, 46cm x 60cm

He explains his idea by quoting Hermann von Helmholtz’s essay:

… the objects at hand in space seem to us clothed with the qualities of our sensations. They appear to us as red or green, cold or warm, to have smell or taste, etc., although these qualities of sensation belong to our nervous system alone and do not at all reach beyond into external space. Yet even when we know this, the appearance does not end, because this appearance is, in fact, the original truth...
What interests me in connecting this article with the agenda setting theory is that I think, the reason media cannot serve the “bridge” function well, is not just because Lippman says it messes up in its own understanding of reality, but maybe because the contradictions between human perception and reality (or “imagination and nature”, Pepperell) can only be expressed in art and literature.

Imagine newspapers make this announcement one day: The news we serve are what we (the newspaper) think important, and readers should NOT depend on them as what to think about. It is impossible! since the function of newspaper is to make us “see” and “believe”, instead of “guess” and “doubt”. However the reality in the outside world always requires us to think, question, and even imagine sometimes.

1 comment:

  1. Yiting, you're right that the informational project of many media seems to align neatly with the aims and assumptions of science (this is one way to interpret your hypothesis that perception of the real is less about knowing than feeling or sensing, through art). While this is not the course to discuss philosophy or phenomenology, I like this question of ambiguity and we should consider whether print vs. other media possess different levels of it.