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Experience and experiment in art

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A significant impediment to the study of perceptual consciousness is our dependence on simplistic ideas about what experience is like. This is a point that has been made by Wittgenstein, and by philosophers working in the Phenomenological Tradition, such as Husserl and Merleau-Ponty. Importantly, it is an observation that has been brought to the fore in recent discussions of consciousness among philosophers and cognitive scientists who have come to feel the need for a more rigorous phenomenology of experience. The central thought of this paper is that art can make a needed contribution to the study of perceptual consciousness. The work of some artists can teach us about perceptual consciousness by furnishing us with the opportunity to have a special kind of reflective experience. In this way, art can be a tool for phenomenological investigation. The paper focuses on the work of Richard Serra and offers a comparison of his work with that of Tony Smith.
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Keywords: Ernst Mach; Perception; Richard Serra; Tony Smith; art; change blindness; consciousness; experience; phenomenology; sensorimotor skill; visual experience

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, UCSC, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA.

Publication date: 2000-08-01

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