Tuesday, June 21, 2011

the phenomenology of religious spaces (part one of many)

Are you ready? I've been ruminating on this since my moment of spiritual clarity in Portugal. Following is a few questions I hope to turn into, with more reading, a few cogent abstracts.

1. How does ornament operate as a coercive force in art? What are the implications of ornament in various contexts? Specifically, what is the phenomenology of ornament? How does one quantify the visual experience of ornament? What occurs within the body when completely overwhelmed by visual stimuli and how does this contribute to the formation of a malleable mental state? Furthermore, if one accepts the premise that ornament overwhelms the body thus priming the same body for suggestion, could one then discuss the phenomenology of ornament with rhetoric similar to that which surrounds the femme fatale?

2. If ornament is indeed a coercive mechanism, does the Catholic Reformation establishment knowingly utilize it? How does this deployment of ornament complement the theatricality of Catholic Reformation painting? Do we accept sixteenth century religious art as an intentional manipulation of reality, with more duplicitous, sinister overtones than other artistic contexts?

Caravaggio, The Crucifixion of St. Peter (1600-1601)

3. How do religious aural environments contribute to the coercive force of their visual complements? If we accept that sound initiates within the body physiological reactions similar to those that occur in response to violence and trauma, how then does the otherworldly quietude create a tranquility that fosters a malleable mental state? Is it the silence of religious spaces that makes us feel safe, and thus receptive to spiritual ideas?

Isn't new research wonderful?

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