Pictures don’t live in isolation from a context of comprehension and response. According to Gretchen Barbatsis, the notion that meaning is something added to a piece of art has important connotation in the way we conceptualize art. The dynamic understanding of visual interpretation is a mutual process, in which the artwork and the viewer add something to one another. Art conveys meanings, reflects moods, motivates both feelings and actions, and engages the viewer into a vivid dialogue with the artwork. Artists through the ages have been expressing deep feelings and sufferings. The expressiveness of figurative art moves the viewer, not only to admire the artist, but to feel the expressed emotions themselves.
Can we call a picture-viewer engagement global? Local cultures are expanding and changing rapidly and affected by globalization; however there are different understandings of this term in different localities. Many eastern and western examples in the history of art show similar visual emotional expressions. Although the reception of emotional expression in visual art depends on local cultures and individual factors, a pre-read art-related text results in a similar eastern and western reception of the same visual expression. Whether it is an interpretation, criticism or art history, a pre-read text is valuable before seeing the artwork. It configures the viewer’s rational and psychological involvements with artwork itself and affects the way he/she receives it. Regardless of the viewer’s cultural, political, religious backgrounds he/she is involved in a meaning-making process. Every viewer tries to understand ideas and meanings in what is presented in artwork.
The aim of this article is to investigate the picture-viewer interaction, the emotional involvement in visual art and the meaning-making process. Two eastern and western artworks are selected for their visual emotional expression: the Assyrian wall-relief Dying Lioness and the Hellenistic sculpture Laocoön. Both sculptures share painful death, heroic and pathetic presentations. They bring eastern and western expression closer to the viewer.
|Keywords:||Picture-viewer Interaction, Emotional Involvement, Visual Art, Meaning-making Process, Dying Lioness, Laocoon|
Associate Professor, Faculty of Fine Arts, Yarmouk University, Irbid, Irbid, Jordan
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