Figure(s), Figuration, Non-Figuration, Non-Figure(s)

The appearance of new knowledge, as well as new fields of research, attribute an additional (even different) information to the words used. The combination of the terms in the title of this phenomenological research should provide them with information of a recurrent nature. It predetermines the structural character of this approach.

This research wants to be a scientific-methodological analysis of the visual norms of the perception of the reality of figures. It defines within the framework of a personal approach of the basic concepts of what produces the effect of figuration and of what brings to perceive it as non-figuration and to show their conjunctive and interrelational complementarity.

The perception of figures is due to the recurrent reference on the cognitive mechanisms, which by recognition in their conditioned program produce the figurative sense. 

The human figure appears today as an organized being that contains in the entity of its construction usable information. It, as reference (artistic model) is source of proportions, dimensions, curvatures which are perceived as ideal by the man. The man is the figure according to which is conceived his environment. His structure determines the space he occupies; when it is deformed (during a movement) the space is also deformed.

First sketch for the posture research

The conception of poses, positions of the human body generates not only a pictorialization, but a support on which the pictorialization can be carried out. From the hypothesis that the human body creates the space comes the idea that it can also determine the support of representation (instead of traditionally adapting to geometric forms given beforehand). The shape of the human body thus determines the shape of the support and the latter will be able to act also on the posture that a human form will take. We can therefore see that the multiplicity of combinations of positions will bring a multiplicity of support forms. The character of the pose of the human figure will produce the character of the support; the first will determine the choice of the chromatic climate that the whole will take as well as the material used (is the pose aggressive, calm…).

If the pose of the figure is a stopped action, it could follow another position with another movement which will give to the supports all the characteristics of the movement in question (movement forward, backward, upward, downward, circular, rotary …).

The transformation of the support by the morphogenerating constraint of the figure raises the support from the qualifier “carrier medium” to the level of informative container of equal importance to its figurative content (the support is no longer subordinate, but produces an entangled hierarchy rivaling its pictorial content).

The support becomes figure itself while being non-figure in the traditional sense.

Moreover the body acts, when it makes a movement, on the space and the time, and this spatio-temporal action will be reflected on the dimensions that reflected on the dimensions that the supports will take as well as on their positioning in space. The movement will be readable by the shape of the supports and their arrangement in space. In a given space, a figurative subject in movement will put “in image” its spatio-temporal relativity.

The figuration is the organized juxtaposition of different matters, the non-figuration, that of their “apparent” disorganization.

There is thus relation between figuration and non-figuration. The construction of figures is dependent on the application of a syntax of the pictorial language. Those who know this syntax will be able to “read” the image as being figurative, the others will see an “abstract” (non-referential) representation.

Depending on their organization, the signs will induce figurative and non-figurative meaning:

if one organizes the strokes according to vectors, directions and well-determined reference points, one will recognize an eye, a nose, a mouth, a head, a human body …, but in the final analysis on the support one will have seen only strokes which are spreads of matter (colored pigments or other matters), ephemeral apparitions which take their relative existence only in the mental field.

This last proposal questions the reason for the division of figuration and non-figuration.

Abstract Mirror

The production of pictorial objects comes from a strategy of reflection. Before any putting into practice there is a mental elaboration of a project (in the form of program of action). The project generates its realization by its translation from the cognitive level to the material level. There is a vectorialization of the interior of the human body towards an exterior, a directionality which materializes the cerebral projection in a concrete expression.

As our knowledge mechanisms function by recurrent exchange between the inside and the outside, it is obvious that the vectors of projection do not only go in one direction, but that during the realisation of the project, the constraints of the materials used act again on the structure of the programme. The figures are the starting point of the action procedure, they are the observed (the energy received from outside) retained in materialized expression (wood, canvas, colour, synthetic or organic material).

From the empirical observations, postulates will be established, which will lead to the formulation of a theory of figuration. This theory is synthetic, its propositions will induce contrary propositions which will not come from the observed. They will formulate the antithesis: the theory of non-figuration. From the non-observed, from the cognitive synthesis, will appear materialized products that will be the non-figures.

It is obvious that the products of synthesis will act on the products of observation. They will have a modifying effect on the way the latter are received and conceived. This is the case for the theoretical structures, which will have to readjust the structural moulds of their knowledge system according to the results of the combination of conscious will (choice) and organisational chance, encountered in the course of realisation.

The methodology will resemble that of the scientific approach. It will retain its property of being mutable, while referring to fields of knowledge that have appeared fairly recently such as cybernetics, information theory, systemics, semiology, ergonometrics, brain physiology and neurobiology.

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