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Which clippings match 'Problem Centric Approach' keyword pg.1 of 1

The artistic image: 'between the sayable and the visible'

"The sworn enemy of this logic of combination or juxtaposition are the border police of genre classification (typical of art history and its curatorial leanings which seem to contaminate film theory too) who struggle with any notion of redistribution of the sensible. It is in The Future of The Image that Jacques Rancière defines the artistic image as a set of operations or relations 'between the sayable and the visible' and calls this the regime of the 'distribution of the sensible', a status quo which can be altered, through a redistribution, which creates new ways of seeing (Rancière, 2007: 6). In the work of Marker and Godard, such a redistribution of the sensible has been generally understood, categorised as–and duly named–'film–essays', ever since André Bazin coined the phrase, referring specifically to Marker's work as a political and historical type of writing mediated by poetry (Bazin, 1985: 179–181). Fine. But what does the catch–phrase cover? What practice does it immunise? Is there a risk of seriously limiting the scope and aesthetic dimension of such films by segregating them?

Phillip Lopate considers the film–essay a 'cinematic genre that barely exists' in Can Movies Think? In Search of The Centaur: The Essay–Film (Lopate, 1998: 280). It must have words, whether spoken, subtitled, or intertitled. These must represent a single voice and exclude any collage of quoted texts that do not reflect a 'unified perspective'. The film must be an argument, an attempt at working out a problem; it must put across a personal view, and be well–written (Lopate, 1998: 283). However, his classification is quite prescriptive: no interviews are allowed and no documentaries (Lopate, 1998: 305). Yet, Lopate's examples include Resnais's documentary Night and Fog (1955) and his dictate of 'reasoned, essayistic discourse' seems too narrow from the perspective of visual art, and certainly contradicts his celebration of Marker, whose digressive approach to text and image is deliberate in a spiralling multiplicity that brings to mind, for example, Carlo Emilio Gadda's novels which are equally and intentionally digressive and always on the edge of subverting the integrity of the text, or, perhaps closer to home in a French milieu, Georges Perec's roving pen in Species of Spaces and Other Pieces (1997) that picks up from the smallest detail of everyday life a point of departure for a long intellectual journey. In this regard, Italo Calvino's 1985 Harvard lecture on multiplicity, later collected in Six Memos of the next Millenium (1993), provides an excellent cultural context for exploring the method and the creative potential of experimenting beyond the limitations of genre from inside, showing how genre can become a nonsense when its border lines are crossed, because you are invited to look at the real differently; true of these filmmakers, true of Calvino himself, true of the films of Michelangelo Antonioni or of Federico Fellini's too."

(David Brancaleone, 2012, Vertigo Magazine)

Brancaleone, D. (2012). "The Interventions of Jean–Luc Godard and Chris Marker into Contemporary Visual Art". Vertigo Magazine. Spring 2012.


Andre Bazinart history • artistic image • border crossings • border/boundaryborderline • Carlo Emilio Gadda • Chris MarkerChristian Boltanski • cinematic genre • classificationcontemporary artcontemporary visual artcuratorial practice • digression • digressive approach • distribution of the sensible • essayistic discourse • experimental cinemaFederico Fellinifilm essayfilm theory • genre classification • genre differentiation • Georges Perec • integrity of the text • interventionist artJacques RanciereJean-Luc GodardjuxtapositionMichelangelo AntonioniMnemosyne Atlasmulti-media collagistmultiplicitiesmultiplicity • new ways of seeing • Night and Fog (1955) • Okwui Enwezor • Phillip Lopate • problem centric approach • redistribution • redistribution of the sensible • sayable • sensible • set of operations • set of relations • Six Memos of the next Millenium (1993) • Species of Spaces and Other Pieces (1997) • text and image • unified perspective • Vertigo (magazine) • video artist


Simon Perkins
01 JUNE 2009

The problem with problems: recognising the intrinsic value of reflection

"For [Donald] Schön, reflective practice is always employed as a methodological approach to particular problems, arising from professional tensions – my work as a mining engineer and my moral obligation to indigenous knowing or the environment, my desire to heal and the politically motivated organisational changes in the health professions, my desire to produce innovative content in games and the 'safety–first' attitudes of transglobal publishers. For Schön, it is always the problem which motivates reflective practice, and it is always the solution which is its reward. For Schön, the activity of reflective practice is fraught with personal difficulty – identifying and acting on problems, and prizing and constellating around solutions. Structurally, Schön's thesis must always face difficulty and resistance, both from a cultural/sociological perspective (resisting the ascribed wisdom of the professions), and from a personal perspective (resisting the disempowerment of particular professionals). This resistance is first sought, and subsequently followed through the process of reflection: by being able to look inwardly and pay attention to the experience of self, we become aware of the incompatibilities of self and other. Schön suggests that it is only through a sustained and methodological attention to these incompatibilities, conflicts and contradictions that allows for the emergence of a more integrated and satisfying professional voice, and which allows for the transformation of one's professional context.

All of this makes reflection seem like very sober and dour stuff, but as any reflective practitioner will tell you, the process of reflection is often joyous, filled with delight, and a reward in itself. In creative work in particular, we consistently seek out and circle this difficult, yet shimmering surface of delight, aware that a concentration on practice is far more intimate and sure–footed than a concentration on the product. An obsession with ends tends to create a projective knowing or longing for outcomes and results and we become like Joyce's Mr Duffy, who ' lived at a little distance from his body'(Joyce, 1914, 119) . It is important to acknowledge that through sustained enquiry into the incompatibles, conflicts and contradictions we find the compatibilities and the delights as well. We find that which is thriving, useful, fresh, innovative and alive in our own practice, or in the practice of others. By taking on the work of continuing self–reflection, we make ourselves open to the unfamiliar, and become connoisseurs of our own emotion and experience. Even as reflection sometimes traces through painful and difficult paths, this process allows for a deeper professional and personal 'embeddedness' within conflicting and contradictory situations. For although contradictions arise, they need not bump into one another and be regarded as 'problems to be solved'. This problem centric approach seems inevitably to suggest nostalgia for the very stability which is resisted. Confusion, contradiction and incompatibility can be celebrated, as we allow ourselves to be extended through the endarkening process of allowing and admitting.

Schön's work emerges from an appreciation of the critical and political impasse of the individual within emergent forms of social organisation. While Schön's work is largely focused at organisational change, learning theory and the empowerment of the individual through its manifestation as a 'methodology for reflective practice', it does not overtly address the more systemic issues of production and consumption, and the relationship of the professional to the process of public deliberation. It is, true enough, that the professions were and are in crisis, and that they are constantly called to adapt their practices within an ever–changing landscape of professional activity, but the question of why and how this landscape has turned from stasis to flux is never systematically addressed. Schön's critics observe that although his approach 'substitutes responsive networks for traditional hierarchies, his theory of governance remains locked in top–down paternalism' (Smith, 2001). What is disquieting about the reflective practitioner, as proposed by Schön, is that they are seemingly in the dark about the joys inherent in reflection itself (by being ideologically bound to problems), and further cloistered by the complex trajectories of social, technological and political systems which consistently seek to refine and refigure the professions. Whereas Schön succeeds in re–animating the role of the individual professional, he displays a kind of paternal naiveté when approaching the crisis of the professions – reflection becomes like a panacea for the larger (and mostly disregarded) problems of inequity, including the role of labour, the decentralisation and mobilisation of capital and the continuing diversification and segmentation of symbolic exchange."

(Chris Barker, 2006)

Barker, Chris. (2006) The Changing Nature of Practice in a 'Networked Society'. Published in the proceedings for Speculation and Innovation: applying practice led research in the Creative Industries, Queensland University of Technology

Joyce, James. (1914) Dubliners, London: Grant Richards.


2006action research • Chris Barker • enquiryJames Joycemethodologynetwork societyproblem centric approach • problems • professionsQUTreflective practicereflective practitionerspeculation and innovation • SPIN • theory • traditional hierarchies


Simon Perkins

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