Intuition – what?

It’s a word that gets bounded about a lot in the arts, intuition. I haven’t heard it for a while and then on Tuesday I went to a Fine Art lecture from Dr Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen on Historical narratives as aesthetic representations and Wolfgang Weileder made a comment about artists intuition in response to photographic representation. Tom Schofield also started to talk to me on Friday in the pub about how he doesn’t like to refer to intuition in artistic practice. On Saturday I had also referred rather uneasily to the notion of intuition as I tried to work through the uncomfortable feeling I had, that I couldn’t quite articulate about the Latour reading on monads, The Whole is Always Smaller Than Its Parts, when we had engaged with it at the reading group.

When most of us talk about intuition on a regular, everyday basis, we often talk about it in relation to a kind of mysticism. A way of reacting or responding to something without really knowing why or how we might know, having a gut feeling that something isn’t quite right or is totally right and going with the flow. Jung assigned it to the unconscious and Miles Briggs adopted it as a personality type, an extrovert or an introvert prone to either entrepreneurial genius or mystical mutterings. Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Blink’ puts the kibosh on both these by suggesting a much more pragmatic approach based on our accumulative experience, both as a humans and as professionals. He doesn’t take a biological or psychological approach, rather a set of stories illustrates how people know something, firefighters, military commanders, art critics, before they understand how and why they have reacted in a particular way.

I felt a little silly on Thursday when on reading the Latour, admittedly while I was also laser cutting for the workshop session I was running with the Angelou Centre on the Friday, I just didn’t get it. There were parts of it I understood and I agreed with, but there was something niggling me on why it was making me question it. I couldn’t articulate this in the reading group because I couldn’t come up with one reason. At that stage I hadn’t digested all that was in there and how it might be put to use. And then when I had thought about it some more part of it was because I didn’t know how to understand the data visualisations themselves as they look utterly dull, scientific representations of textual information. It’s a god’s eye view of a world reduced to textual or visual abstract knowledge which will no doubt become and is becoming the way in which large quantities of data will be understood and sense will be made through an immediate glance. At the moment, I just don’t know how to read these and I guess my uncertainty was one of confusion because I just didn’t know how to make sense of what was being presented and how it was relevant to me. Unlike the visualisation of the link between acid and brass music that Jeremy Deller created I understand that because of the context and I know what he was trying to do.

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