James J. Gibson: The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception (1979–) [EN, RU]

2 March 2015, dusan

“James J. Gibson (1904–1979) is one of the most important psychologists of the 20th century, best known for his work on visual perception. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University and his first major work was The Perception of the Visual World (1950) in which he rejected behaviorism for a view based on his own experimental work. In his later works, including The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception (1979), Gibson became more philosophical and criticized cognitivism in the same way he had attacked behaviorism before, arguing strongly in favor of direct perception and direct realism, as opposed to cognitivist indirect realism. He termed his new approach ‘ecological psychology’.”

“He moved from thinking about what patterns could act as stimuli to rethinking the concept of the stimulus itself, ultimately rejecting “stimulus” in favor of his version of “information.” In a 1960 paper that is a classic in its own right, Gibson carefully surveyed the patch work of meanings of the term “stimulus” that could be found in the literature. He concluded that the optical (or acoustic, or haptic etc.) patterning that would best correspond to actual perceiving in the world no longer seemed like a “stimulus” at all in any proper sense. Instead, he proposed a common-sense usage of the term “information” (as opposed to the technical usage of Shannon) which was fairly well developed by that time. By information, Gibson meant structured energy that was information about environmental sources, in contrast to information as structure in an information theoretical sense which implies a sender and a receiver. Gibson’s information is specific to its environmental sources though not a replica or a copy. It certainly is not a stimulus in the sense of energy that triggers a response. Gibson’s information does not come to the animal. The animal goes to it, actively obtaining the information. Part 2 of this volume develops this concept of information and is at the heart of Gibson’s theory.” (from the Introduction)

“Gibson’s legacy is increasingly influential on many contemporary movements in psychology, particularly those considered to be post-cognitivist.”

Publisher Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1979
This edition, Psychology Press, 2014
ISBN 9781315740218
315 pages

Reviews and commentaries: E. Bruce Goldstein (Leonardo, 1981), Frederick A. Jules (1984), A. P. Costall (Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 1984), Maurizio Ferraris (1999, IT), William M. Mace (Ethics & the Environment, 2005).

Wikipedia, FR

The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception (English, 1979/2014, 4 MB)
Ekologicheskiy podchod k zritelnomu vospriyatiyu (Russian, trans. T.M. Sokolskoy, 1988, 11 MB)

For more on Gibson see Monoskop wiki.

Seth Kim-Cohen: Against Ambience (2013)

28 February 2015, dusan

Against Ambience diagnoses – in order to cure – the art world’s recent turn toward ambience. Over the course of three short months – June to September, 2013 – the four most prestigious museums in New York indulged the ambience of sound and light: James Turrell at the Guggenheim, Soundings at MoMA, Robert Irwin at the Whitney, and Janet Cardiff at the Met. In addition, two notable shows at smaller galleries indicate that this is not simply a major-donor movement. Collectively, these shows constitute a proposal about what we want from art in 2013.

It’s impossible to play possum. While we’re in the soft embrace of light, the NSA and Facebook are still collecting our data, the money in our bank accounts is still being used to fund who-knows-what without our knowledge or consent, the government we elected is still imprisoning and targeting people with whom we have no beef. We deserve an art that is the equal of our information age. Not one that parrots the age’s self-assertions or modes of dissemination, but an art that is hyper-aware, vigilant, active, engaged, and informed.

We are now one hundred years clear of Duchamp’s first readymades. So why should we find ourselves so thoroughly in thrall to ambience? Against Ambience argues for an art that acknowledges its own methods and intentions; its own position in the structures of cultural power and persuasion. Rather than the warm glow of light or the soothing wash of sound, Against Ambience proposes an art that cracks the surface of our prevailing patterns of encounter, initiating productive disruptions and deconstructions.”

Publisher Bloomsbury, 2013
ISBN 9781628921366

Interview about the book (EarRoom, 2013)
Review: Joseph Nechvatal (On Verge, 2014).

Author’s blog

EPUB (updated on 2018-7-6)
PDF (added on 2018-7-6)

See also sound art page on Monoskop