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The Cambridge Companion to Merleau-Ponty

by Taylor Carman Mark B. N. Hansen

Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961) was described by Paul Ricoeur as 'the greatest of the French phenomenologists'. The essays in this 2004 volume examine the full scope of Merleau-Ponty's philosophy, from his central and abiding concern with the nature of perception and the bodily constitution of intentionality to his reflections on science, nature, art, history, and politics. The authors explore the historical origins and context of his thought as well as its continuing relevance to contemporary work in phenomenology, philosophy of mind, cognitive science, biology, art criticism and political and social theory. What emerges is a fresh image of Merleau-Ponty as a deep and original thinker whose philosophical importance has been underestimated, in part owing to the influence of intellectual movements such as existentialism and structuralism, into which his work could not be easily assimilated. New readers will find this the most convenient and accessible guide to Merleau-Ponty currently available.

New Philosophy for New Media

by Mark B. N. Hansen

In New Philosophy for New Media, Mark Hansen defines the image in digital art in terms that go beyond the merely visual. Arguing that the "digital image" encompasses the entire process by which information is made perceivable, he places the body in a privileged position -- as the agent that filters information in order to create images. By doing so, he counters prevailing notions of technological transcendence and argues for the indispensability of the human in the digital era. Hansen examines new media art and theory in light of Henri Bergson's argument that affection and memory render perception impure -- that we select only those images precisely relevant to our singular form of embodiment. Hansen updates this argument for the digital age, arguing that we filter the information we receive to create images rather than simply receiving images as preexisting technical forms. This framing function yields what Hansen calls the "digital image." He argues that this new "embodied" status of the frame corresponds directly to the digital revolution: a digitized image is not a fixed representation of reality, but is defined by its complete flexibility and accessibility. It is not just that the interactivity of new media turns viewers into users; the image itself has become the body's process of perceiving it. To illustrate his account of how the body filters information in order to create images, Hansen focuses on new media artists who follow a "Bergsonist vocation"; through concrete engagement with the work of artists like Jeffrey Shaw, Douglas Gordon, and Bill Viola, Hansen explores the contemporary aesthetic investment in the affective, bodily basis of vision.

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