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Lesson Plans


size/meaning/intention

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
marcia m eaton (marciameaton)
Sat, 20 Mar 1999 02:27:16 -0500


The recent discussion about how small things can be powerful suggest an
intereting distinction---one that I think it is important to keep in mind
when we think about meaning and interpretation: Just as it is possible for
a painting to be red without being about redness or to be small without be
about smallness, so it is possible for a painting to be powerful without
being about power. This is why I think it is hard for small things to be
about power although they are, of course, often very powerful. Trajan
intended that his Forum be powerful as well as being about power. I think
getting your students to think about this distinction might be a good
exercise. Here are some suggested questions:
1. When can a work have a property P without it being about P?
That is, might a work be red without being about redness?
Might a work be small without being about smallness?
2. When can a work be about P without having the property P?
That is, can a work be about redness without having any red in it?
Can a work be about smallness without itself being small?
Can a ceramic work be about oil painting?
3. Can a work have a property P about be about not-P?
That is, might a work be small and be about bigness?
The general question here, of course, is how properties of the media
artists use work to generate meaning.
Let me know what examples they come up with. Best, Marcia