pictorial ambiguity

Nicolas Constantin Romanacci: Pictorial Ambiguity (Master Thesis)

Abstract (Original abstract from a published excerpt): Ambiguity commonly counts as a specific feature of art, implying quite general importance. Though authors like Gombrich did stress its importance for an aesthetic analysis, there’s no comprehensive study at hand regarding ambiguity in art that offers an investigation of the symbol theoretical, the media-specific and the epistemological aspects of ambiguity. My investigation aims to contribute to a view on ambiguity that explores these aspects (or ›levels‹) and particularly also tries to relate these levels to each other – presuming that a differentiated theoretical discourse serves as an important point of departure for a differentiated description of different types of ambiguity, to be precisely elaborated through analysing specific and concrete works of art. Subsequently, it is intended that only differentiated results of investigating the ›theoretical level‹ and the ›media level‹ can serve as a sound reference for statements on a ›general level‹. One basic point of departure for my investigation is the view on interpreting aesthetic experience in terms of treating an artwork as a symbolic object (understood in a conceivable broad sense). Therefore we have to look closely at the ways of reference an artwork has to offer, for this is one important way to analyse how an artwork can be understood. I want to forge an application of this general ›cognitive‹ approach to an analysis of concrete artworks and propose to interprete my investigation as exemplifying an approach to an ›applied cognitivistic aesthetics‹. The core concept is understanding. This article is an excerpt from my study providing some examples from the applied ›media level‹ and closing with some epistemological considerations.

With detailed analysis of works from Giotto, Giorgio Morandi, Jasper Johns, Dan Graham and other artists.

Master Thesis delivered at Danube-University Krems, course »Image Science« (»Bildwissenschaft«), with focus on Media Art and Image Philosophy, 2010, evaluated »with excellence«. Supervisor: Prof. Klaus Sachs-Hombach.