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This assignment allows you to explore the act of representation Essay Sample

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This assignment allows you to explore the act of representation Essay Sample

This assignment allows you to explore the act of representation. Let’s begin by analyzing the term: “re-presentation” suggests that an artist can never directly “present” the world to her/his audience. Instead the artist can only re-present it, using the tools and ideologies available to her/him. Representation is a combination of physical seeing with world view; all representations not only display what the viewer is seeing, but also represent how the viewer is seeing it. That “how” is derived from world view.

The Seventeenth Century

The world view of the seventeenth century is plagued by uncertainty and tragedy. Religious truth had been shattered to its core by the Reformation and its aftermath; this led to serious questioning of the nature of truth itself. The readings by Luther, Milton, Pascal, and Descartes reveal the extent of that questioning.

Las Meninas

Below is a “representation” of the seventeenth century world view: Velazquez’s Las Meninas, or The Ladies in Waiting. Velazquez painted portraits of the Spanish royal family throughout his career. This painting, however, is quite a different matter. The young girl at the center of the painting is the 5-year-old princess, who at this moment is unwilling to pose; she has undoubtedly spent a great deal of her life posing. Her two ladies in waiting, in addition to two court dwarves, are trying to convince her to cooperate. In the mirror on the back wall are reflected the girl’s parents, the king and queen. The painter is Velazquez himself.

These questions may help you to understand what Velazquez is trying to accomplish in the painting:

* In what sense is this painting a “portrait”?

* Who is the subject of the “portrait”?

* What is your position as a viewer?

* Who is Velazquez looking at and why?

The Assignment

In your response use one of the texts (Luther, Milton, Pascal, or Descartes) to help make sense of Velazquez’s painting. Your response should clearly explain the idea(s) from the written text and then explain the relationship between those ideas and the painting. In what way does Velazquez’s representation of the scene in the painting reveal a seventeenth century world view? Your response should be 2-3 paragraphs in length.

A reminder: Don’t forget that your Bridge submission must include a response to another student’s submission (unless you happen to be the first to submit for a given assignment). For guidance on how to approach your Bridge assignments, refer to the Main Notebook, Note 2.

This particular painting is very complex and could be interpreted in many ways. And although I believe that no one will ever be able to correctly describe what the artist felt during creation of this portrait, we all can speculate on its meaning. Our first feeling is of being there. We are standing just to the right of the King and Queen, whose reflections we can see in the distant mirror. The painter himself is in the corner observing the scene.

As Amber Starcher mentioned original name of this painting was The Family, and only later Las Meninas became its primary name. This shows that the intent of this painting was to show the whole “family” not just another portrait of the 5 year old. And that’s why you can even possibly say that this painting was a self portrait. Velazquez wanted to show people how he sees world around him and what his everyday life is like.

As written in Pensees 198: ” Seeing the blindness and misery of man, and looking over the muteness of the entire universe, and man without any light, abandoned and alone in this corner of the universe, without knowing who placed him there, what he has come to do” this kind of describes what the painted might have been feeling. He is in the corner looking at people who have their own worries, but at the same time those are the people who run the whole country and have power in determining the life style of their people.

The “Enlightened” Individual

The readings in this unit offer a model for the Enlightenment concept of an individual. This is the concept that, with some modifications, many of us still carry around today. From this concept is built our entire world view concerning the nature of society, politics, government, authority, economics, and even science. It would not be unfair to say that a culture’s concept of an individual underlies every aspect of the culture’s world view.

Creating Knowledge

All knowledge that you’re learning has been made up by someone; to become really brilliant involves not just learning knowledge that someone else has made up, but learning also to make your own knowledge. That’s the purpose of this assignment. Making knowledge is simple: you figure out what you don’t know by using what you do know.

You now know something about the Enlightenment concept of the individual. You also know that other cultures don’t necessarily share the same ideas about what an individual is. So in order to start figuring out what these different ideas are, take what you know about the Enlightenment concept of the individual and figure out what its opposite might be. That’s one way to create knowledge.

Your Assignment: You should begin with a paragraph that explains the Enlightenment concept of the individual. How does this concept affect our culture’s view of society, politics, authority, psychology, or science? Then in a second paragraph, imagine what the opposite concept would be. Then, in a third paragraph, imagine how that opposite concept would affect the view of society, politics, authority, psychology, or science.

A reminder: Don’t forget that your Bridge submission must include a response to another student’s submission (unless you happen to be the first to submit for a given assignment). For guidance on how to approach your Bridge assignments, refer to the Main Notebook, Note 2.

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