Introduction
To fasten words again to visible – and invisible – things
in Mixed messages
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In this extended introductory essay, Catherine Gander and Sarah Garland suggest new ways of looking at the correspondences between visual and verbal practices to consider their material and conceptual connections in a specifically American set of histories, contexts and interpretive traditions. Tracing a lineage of experiential philosophy that is grounded in the overturning of a Cartesian mind/body split, the authors argue for pluralistic perspectives on intermedial innovations that situate embodied and imaginative reader-viewer response as vital to the life of the artwork. Gander and Garland chart two main strands to this approach: the pragmatist strain of American aesthetics and social politics, rooted in the essays of transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson and emanating from the writings of John Dewey and William James; and the conceptualist strain of French-American Marcel Duchamp, whose ground-breaking ideas both positioned the artwork as a phenomenological construction and liberated the artist from established methods of practice and discourse. The ‘imagetext’ (after W. J. T. Mitchell) is therefore, argue Gander and Garland, a site consisting of far more than word and image – but a living assemblage of language, idea, thing, cognition, affect and shared experience.

Mixed messages

American correspondences in visual and verbal practices

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