Presentation by: David Gruber

pucefakeAI and Robotics

Nov 30, 2013 (4 years and 7 months ago)


Presentation by: David Gruber


What does the term “the body” mean? How does
it compare to “the figure?”

What is the Western historical context for “the
body” as art?

How have critics of visual rhetoric dealt with…

The body as an object (Dickson /

The “natural”

the “plastic body” (Jordan / Lock)

The segmented body (Gruber /Gallagher/

The dead body (




Gent & Llewellyn (
Renaissance Bodies: The Human
Figure in English Culture)
state, “’Figure’ is the symbol
of life that representation itself stands for. Body, by
contrast, suggests the solidly central unrepresented fact
of existence, a materiality that of itself is inarticulate” (2).

For Gilles
, “the body is the material of the
figure” (Hubert 1). To think of it as static, a mechanism
made up of meat and bones, is limiting. The body is a
flow, a transition, a becoming. This is what

called a “body without organs” (1).

, the figure was an outline of the body, a
tracing of meat… the figure was, more precisely, the
result or scene or “invisible pulsations of the ID” (Patton
260). It was a matrix of desires, but

emphasized the figure as the imminent “visible
sensation” as opposed to hidden desire.

For Renaissance painters “the visual body
represented the ultimate visual compendium,
the comprehensive method of methods, the
organizing structure of structures. As a
visible, natural whole made up of dissimilar
invisible parts, it was the organic paradigm or
architectural standard for all complex unions”
(Stafford 12).

In short, the body was a metaphor.

“Socrates, stiff and naked in his Stoic uprightness,
was pointedly contrasted to the pliant arcs and
disheveled curves weighing down his lesser,
suffering followers (Stafford 15)”

Contrasted a “sickness prone physiology to a
rational and unbendable intellect” (15).

“In a popular Enlightenment metaphor, the mind
was incarcerated in the tenebrous cavern or prison
and thus could not see.” The value of ancient
philosophy was made evident in Socrates’ posture,
which signified sight and “the moment of
purification” (15).

“During the Renaissance there was a strong
belief that the success and progress of works
of art were measured by their treatment of
the human figure” (Gent & Llewellyn 3).

Out of a surging humanism came a “moment
in human history when a tradition that was
abstract and mathematical came together
with the exemplary religious tradition [the
body as made in God’s image] to create a
new version of bodily perfection” (3).


provided a
rational formula for the definition of
bodily perfection… V described the
body of a man with limbs
outstretched, disposed within the
basic, perfect geometrical shapes of
the square and the circle” (Gent &
Llewellyn 3).


called architects "figural artists"
because of the way that the symmetry and
apertures of buildings imitate the form and
orifices of the human body” (


In 1435, Leon B.

argued “that the greatest
work of visual art was the
, whose power
lay in its use of human figures to transmit
important moral truths” (

translates as
“History Painting” told by a means of human
figures in poses)


Vasari argued for a definition
of “the artistic picture” that rested on a
negotiation of the ideal body and actual
representation. “According to Vasari’s


was a key master of the early
Renaissance because his work seemed to stand
upon that ground” (
both quotes from
Gent &
Llewellyn 4).



The body’s status was reduced in the 16

and 17

centuries… Christian hierarchy
made the body the container of the soul and
thus lowered the importance of the body
(Gent & Llewellyn 3

The convention of the spiritualized
interpretation of the body in the Renaissance

has now been lost (


Is this true? To what extent?

Images from Vanity

& Gucci Ad published in


Dickson first discusses how Moore was
pictured as an “object,” something to be

“the object of the cover shot
disrupts the stable understanding of the de
eroticized pregnant body in popular American

Virginal sexless mother

an object of sexual


Tales of Love

Pregnancy as excluded from normative sexuality
and beauty (magazine articles)

The analysis “furthers our understanding of the
ways in which dominant discourses write our
bodies, how those inscriptions are mobilized in
material practices, and how the practices may be
transformed through them” (Dickson 312).


discusses Gucci Man and the shock
and concern expressed in the New York
Times magazine (and elsewhere) over the
“overexposure” of bodies in a “body
obsessed culture.”

Butts! Oh NO!

“’Stars no longer have private parts,’ the
author observed.”


asserts that “all those naked female
bodies” have been “overexposed” for a long
time, but those female bodies as “objects”
did not call for alarm and were not
bothersome. But why?

Answer: Cultural Conditioning

The male
dominated culture of images: “nude
women seem to be in their natural state.”

“Woman aren’t used to seeing naked men
portrayed as ‘objects’ of a sexual gaze…
Women have been deprived… of having the
male body offered to us, handed to us on a
silver platter, the way female bodies

in the
ads and the movies

are handed to men”


Biological explanations are flawed.

So is it wrong/bad for a body to invite a
“sexual gaze?”


implies “no.” Now it’s even!

“for me

and for thousands of gay men
across the country

this was a moment of
political magnitude, and a delicious one. The
body parts that we love to squeeze had come
out of the closet and into mainstream culture”


recognizes that her fantasy is one
where the man knows he is being watched, as
the women seem to know. Gucci Man,

What is a “plastic body”?

According to John Jordan, it is an “altered
body” associated with plastic surgery. It is
“always in a state of potential transition”

“Public accounts of plastic surgery imply that there is
an augmentation for every body and for every part…
such as having one’s toes shortened to fit designer
shoes, “
” or designer bellybutton
surgery to create the perfect bellybutton shape…
designer vagina… penis enlargements…” (Jordan
These are visual issues, but who decides
what the body should look like?

“applicants must confront the medical community’s
ideological perspective on the healthy body and how
this influences surgeons’ choices about which bodies
and desires will receive surgical attention and which
will be rejected as inappropriate…. the plastic body is
limited symbolically and materially” (328).

“The surgically modified body embodies cultural
notions of physical health and beauty, ownership
of the self, and physical appropriateness” (349).

“If psychological distress is the primary
requirement for being granted surgical relief,
then wannabes seemingly would have no trouble
demonstrating their need for surgery…” (349).

“Ultimately, I conclude that, even in a time of
astonishing biotechnology, the constitution of
human body depends on rhetorical invention
as much as technological intervention” (329).

Negotiating Bodily Beauty

What is natural and unnatural?

Images results from

search for body alteration and cosmetic surgery

“The body is elusive on several counts, the
first being that it cannot be fully and
satisfactorily represented, but neither can it
be experienced in a void, without

"It is not quite true that I have a body, and
not quite true that I am one either. We
construct and interpret bodies through
representations of one kind and another”
(Lock 268).

Lock questions our ability to understand or
comprehend the visual look of a “natural”

“Discourses about body surfaces,
about body sculpting…piercing,
tattooing… inform of us, often brilliantly
and provocatively, about
normalization” (267).

“We construct and interpret bodies
through representations of one kind or
another” (267).

The new body of surfaces
with the embodied character of social
processes” (268).

The materiality of the body is monumentalized here. But
that’s not the end of the story.

There is an tension that is trying to be resolved between
the medical view (medical gaze) of the body that
objectifies it and views it as parts
The Birth of
the Clinic
and the humanness of the body that plays
and thinks.

In one sense, these images reject “the new body of
that ignores the philosophical mind that
embraces the material only over the Cartesian duality.
They embrace the mind but place it in reference to the
body, the thing which feels and creates all human

How We Became
Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and

“While anatomically precise, it is
disembodied, abstracted, and

The artist, Robert Graham, wanted the
image to be more open. “The disembodied
forearm and limb function as a metonym…
Louis’ muscle and brawn used to defeat
opponents in the boxing ring serve as
shorthand for the larger struggles of African
Americans” (Gallagher &


“The sculpture is both a grotesque caricature
of the man and a glorification of his limb”

The Fist “seems to be breaking through invisible barriers…”
yet it “is shackled by cables… an emblem of the black body
writ large and the
families torn apart and

, violence and poverty.”

The Fist is “violence without a context.”
It “evokes fear of

violence, fear
of otherness within urban spaces” (10

The Fist
represents the blow to urban

not rebuilt/invested in after

the riots of the 1960s.

Fist represents “the fight
to move
beyond imposed limits” (18).

Observations about the disembodied arm/fist…

Since body parts each have different
physiological functions, when separated from the
rest of the body, the physiological function
becomes a rhetorical function.

The separation also asks the viewer to question
what is missing.

The arm as the vehicle for the fist that punches,
now separated from any actor, allows for the
viewer to question, who is punching and why?

The separation allows us to relate the body part
to the environment and not to the actor.

“Faced with another year of violence, journalists and
citizens alike have to make choices about how to
depict and understand what is happening, and how to
do so without becoming cynical or otherwise numbed
to the obligations and possibilities for change. One
place to begin is by looking at this photograph” (1).

Picking up the pieces.

The Human Remnant.

Putting your best foot


Adding insult to injury.

Source at

/ 2009 new year

“One question we face in the new year is
how to represent, understand, and react to a

by violence. This is not an
academic question” (1).


writes a cynical article in order to
call attention to our cynical attitude toward
the Middle East. He asserts that we need
pictures that will break through our cynical
attitude. This picture of a segmented body
part can do that for us.


What are some differences between these two images?

“When public life appears emotional, it is assumed to be imperiled”

“By crying across a dead body, as if to say ‘How could you?’ the girl
fuses an overwhelming feeling with a fundamental belief [the US
government should not kill citizens for public protest]” (141).

The decorousness of an AP photo of a dead body is
“counterbalanced” by her emotional display (145).

* This is an image of outrage, of a woman trapped between the results
of conflict and the attitude fueling it.

“The body with its face averted carries no record of pain”

“The transgression being depicted and the

act of dissent have to balanced by some more basic
sense of order” (151).

* This is an image of care, of upholding values, not of

The body can be discussed in many ways.

The body is not simply meat. It is not
something that “just is as is.” It is culturally
inscribed. It is a changing idea.

Lock quotes Maurice

points out that the body “is above all
communicative: it is our medium for ‘having’
a world.”

Bono, James. “Introduction: Does the Body Matter?”

5.2 (1997): 177

, Gilles.
The Body, the Meat and the Spirit: Becoming Animal

Dickson, Barbara. “Reading Maternity Materially”
Rhetorical Bodies
. (edited by

& Crowley) University of Wisconsin P, 1999.

Foucault, Michel.
The Birth of a Clinic
Vintage Book, reprint 1994.

Gent, Lucy & Llewellyn, Nigel.
Renaissance Bodies: The Human Figure in English Culture, C. 1540


Books, 1990

, Robert &

John Louis. “Dissent and Emotional Management: Kent State”
No Caption Needed

Chicago: University
of Chicago P, 2007.

Hubert, Christian. Body without Organs. “
,” http://

Jordan, John. “The Rhetorical Limits of the ‘Plastic Body’”
Quarterly Journal of Speech

90 (2004): 327

Patton, Paul.

: a critical reader.

Blackwell Publishing, 1996

Stafford, Barbara Maria.
Body Criticism: Imaging the Unseen in Enlightenment Art and Medicine.
MIT Press, 1993.