A Genealogy of Violence and Its Image

    • Cover Porto 2017
    • Presentation speakers
      • Gale Richardson, Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts, Portland, Maine, USA


    This paper explores a genealogy in the role of violence and the image. The main focus of this paper considers both the moral insights found in phenomenological perceptual experiences from Maurice Merleau-Ponty and postphenomenological reflections of violence and its image through Jean Luc Nancy. Rather than tracing a steady curve and the evolution of violent images from an art historical sense, the translinguistics of Mikhail Bakhtin guide the genealogy in examining the isolation of various scenes of violence and its different roles within original carnivalesque themes and motifs and their transformation into new scenes with new roles in the modern, existential image. Bakhtin is critical in highlighting such comparisons in order to comprehend not the large number of errors on the part of aestheticizing violence, but in attaining the Foucauldian concept of a ‘relentless erudition’ in the constant gathering of knowledge through cumulative sources in getting to ‘the unrealized’ and overall focal methods within my project of investigating violence and perception. Through the restructuring of key Foucauldian genealogical concepts, I demonstrate that when images containing violence have been ‘scratched over and recopied’ with the assumption that their denotative or literal meanings as well as their colorful or connotative meanings have reserved their logic, then the realization of violence goes unnoticed. Instead, what should transpire in the aesthetic experience is the search for the meanings of and yearnings for a violence that knows infiltrations and struggles, as well as schemes and deceptions, in order to recognize all the unrealized factors that take place in the perceptual experience. I argue that if the transitory traits of violence cannot be detected within the reimaging of violence, then a linear development in the history of violence and morality transfers to the image and becomes what Foucault calls a ‘monotonous finality’ with only an exclusive concern for utility. I call society to action in striving for the attainment of a mindset that is sensitive to the recurrences of violence so as not to reduce violence and images to a limited concern for function but to an understanding that violence and morality can remain absent and unrealized in the reimaging process.