Eric Kandel: How Your Brain Finishes Paintings

I think this is a fair paraphrase of Eric Kandel’s reasoning:

  1. Following Alois Riegl, Art History should focus more on the psychology of aesthetic response.
  2. Renaissance Art is “inner-directed”, whereas the Dutch Masters and later works enlist the viewer’s perspective and perceptual participation.
  3. Ernst Kris and maybe also Ernst Gombrich ground this psychological aesthetic participation in evidence of perceptual illusions.
  4. Authors of great works of art exploit these devices to create ambiguous interpretations and engimatic emotional effects.
  5. Through solving these visual puzzles, the viewer performs a diminished version of the same creative act in visual interpretation that the artist performs dramatically in visual production.
  6. This view of the creative synthesis and interpretation of ambiguous perceptual data can help us understand cognition.

This account seems to rely on a theory that visual phenomena can be encoded by the artist and reconstructed as different but to some extent equivalent mental images in the mind of the viewer, and that the artist that paints and the viewer that views are doing the same or an equivalent activity, but to different degrees. This makes it a kind of information theory of artistic communication, and subject to the same kinds of empirical criticisms.

Eric Kandel: How Your Brain Finishes Paintings Read More »

Psychology vs. Sociology on Art valuation


In the last week or so BBC Radio 4 had two very different takes on the valuation of art from two sides of the psychology/sociology fence that made a striking illustration of the differences between experimental and observational approaches to the question of art’s monetary valuation.

The first was an interview with Prof Christian Heath on the subject of his new book The Dynamics of Auction by sociologically oriented programme Thinking Allowed from 13/03/2013.

The second was an experiment on yesterday’s episode of a fun new series called The Human Zoo by Prof. Nick Chater in which people were invited to guess the value of artworks – either as individual guessers or as groups. The punchline: individuals guess lower than groups, but everyone underestimates dramatically.

The Human Zoo experiment – designed to respond to the programme’s theme of ‘groupthink’ – involved flashing up images of “great works of art”, and asking people to guess the price they sold for. Participants were allowed to form groups or guess as individuals, and that group-or-individual condition was the variable under scrutiny. When I mailed him a link to the Christian Heath interview, Nick Chater – the Human Zoo’s resident behavioural scientist said the experiment was intended primarily as a fun way to see how groups can produce more extreme outcomes than their members.

Heath’s interview highlights the competitive dynamics of the auction: how the interactions between bidders are conventionally orchestrated as a two-party conflict, and how the auctioneer winds up the punters and wields the gavel in ways that are carefully designed to inflate the sales price of the lot.

I suspect that if they’d introduced a process of competitive speculation on prices into the experiment, even without the wily auctioneer figure, the underestimates would have been far less dramatic.

Neither of these studies (unfair as it is to compare a fun radio show test to the research findings in an august academic publication), are intended to deal with the kinds of generalised, everyday processes of aesthetic disagreement that I’m writing my PhD on, although there are some interesting snippets of conversation audible in the Human Zoo report: “I was thinking about zero – some random pastiche of pop art, probably zero”.

It’s also interesting to hear the kinds of extrapolations about counteracting ‘groupthink’ effects by looking to ‘optimal’ decision making frameworks including anonymous voting that are drawn from the experiment later in the programme.

There are systems of decision-making like this in processes of art making and art-appreciation. Some prizes include an ‘audience award’ that is voted on, and some funding committees vote, while others rely on expert panel discussion or curatorial caprice – but the character and effects of these different processes and situations of decision-making on how aesthetic value is constructed and expressed are rarely scrutinised in their interactional detail.

Psychology vs. Sociology on Art valuation Read More »

Recipient Design

Following Rod Munday’sSacks Lexicon, and in the interests of demystifying what can seem like an impenetrable field of technical Conversation Analysis (CA) terminology, I’m assembling a glossary of CA terms that crop up repeatedly in papers and seem useful for getting to grips with the basic methodology.


By recipient design we refer to a multitude of respects in which the talk by a party in a conversation is constructed or designed in ways which display an orientation and sensitivity to the particular other(s) who are the co-participants.

Sacks, H. & Schegloff, E. A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation, Language, 1974, 50, 696-735

Although reference and relevance are related topical issues, knowledge of the referent is not sufficient for establishing relevance. An object referenced not only has to be recognizable, but also has to be transformed into an object for this conversation, for these participants, a feature that Sacks et al. (1974:727) call “recipient design.”

Maynard, D. & Zimmerman, D. Topical talk, ritual and the social organization of relationships Social Psychology Quarterly, 1984, 47, 301-316


Recipient design is a very useful analytical term that could be well applied to fields beyond CA – to refer to any shaping of an action for an intended recipient. It’s a particularly useful term to use in the study of interaction because it focuses analysis on the demonstrable competences, knowledge and situational awareness of the interactants themselves.

Recipient Design Read More »

Tools for Writing Conversation Analytic Papers

NB: There is an updated version of this post.


There are great software tools out there for CA-style transcription, my favourite is CLAN for a number of reasons. However, I can’t find any resources online about how to publish CA-style transcriptions without being forced through some eye-bleeding LaTeX diddling every time.

Of course I could just use a WYSIWYG text editor like LibreOffice – but now I’ve experienced the power of LaTeX for document preparation and publication, I really can’t see myself going back.

When doing CA it seems particularly important to have transcriptions legibly in the body of the paper and visible during the writing process, because many of the analytical observations come, or get significantly modified at the point of writing about them, double and triple checking assumptions, and cross-referencing with the CA literature while tweaking citations.

My chosen solution: Markdown + Pandoc

Markdown is my favourite lightweight markup language, a highly readable format with which you can write a visually pleasing text file, which you can then convert into almost any other format – HTML, OpenOffice, LaTeX, RTF, etc. using Pandoc. There are many similar systems, notably reStructuredText and Textile, all of which you can use to write your text file, and other conversion tools/toolsets, but in my experience, Markdown and Pandoc are the most useful combination in an academic context 1.

There are lots of great things about markdown:

  • Just edit simple text files – no weird file formats to get corrupted or mangled.
  • Less verbose and complicated-looking than LaTeX.
  • Small files are easy to share/collaborate on with others (everyone gets to use their favourite editor).
  • There are some great pandoc plugins for my favourite text editor vim.

However, the best thing is that, used along with the XeTeX typesetting engine, it solves the problem with CA transcriptions being unreadable in LaTeX/pdflatex.

For example, in my first CA-laced paper, my transcriptions looked like this in my LaTeX source:

 & D: &  0:h (I k-)= \\
 & A: &  =Dz  that  make any sense  to  you?  \\
 & C: &  Mn mh. I don' even know who she is.  \\
 & A: &  She's that's, the Sister Kerrida, \hspace{.3mm} who, \\
 & D: &  \hspace{76mm}\raisebox{0pt}[0pt][0pt]{ \raisebox{2.5mm}{[}}'hhh  \\
 & D: &  Oh \underline{that's} the one you to:ld me you bou:ght.= \\
 & C: &  \hspace{2mm}\raisebox{0pt}[0pt][0pt]{ \raisebox{2.5mm}{[}} Oh-- \hspace{42mm}\raisebox{0pt}[0pt][0pt]{             \raisebox{2mm}{\lceil}} \\
 & A: &  \hspace{60.2mm}\raisebox{0pt}[0pt][0pt]{ \raisebox{3.1mm}{\lfloor}}\underline{Ye:h} \\
\caption{ Evaluation of a new artwork from (JS:I. -1) \cite[p.78]{Pomerantz1984} .}

which renders this:

In Markdown for my latest paper, the CA bits look like this:


STE:        U̲o̲:̲h̲ oh ugly things [he paints.] 
KAT:                            [Really?] 
STE:        (°I think s[o-])°
KAT:                   [So you wouldn't sell any?] 
STE:        U̲u̲h̲ n[o] 
KAT:              [No?] 

which renders this:


There is a small amount of control sacrificed here – possibly for unicode XeTeX or font issues – I’m not sure yet – I don’t get to render the nicely stretched ceiling characters for overlap marking, or the raised full stop / bullet operator for inbreaths, but normal full stops and square brackets work reasonably well.

Overall, I think the Markdown version represents a significant improvement in legibility. I think it might be possible to do the same in LaTeX using the {verbatim} environment, but the fact that Markdown also lets me concentrate on writing without throwing errors or refusing to compile lets me spend longer on the writing than on endless text-fiddling procrastination.

When it comes to rendering, I feed my markdown file to pandoc:

$ pandoc --latex-engine xelatex --bibliography library.bib --csl default.csl -N -o  paper_title.pdf paper_title.markdown

I use a citation style language file to customise how my bibliographical references are rendered, and it pops out looking like I slaved over the LaTeX for hours.


  1. Not all of these systems support bibliographical references with BibTeX – Markdown + Pandoc does this quite elegantly

Tools for Writing Conversation Analytic Papers Read More »

Aesthetic Assessments in the BNC

Thanks to Hari Kunzru for this one.
Thanks to Hari Kunzru for this one.

I am writing a thesis entitled “Accounting for Taste, the Pragmatics of Aesthetic Assessments in Conversation”. The project is to show how people ‘do’ aesthetics interactionally; how they express and negotiate about their tastes, how they describe the world and make certain aspects of it intelligible to themselves and one another as aesthetic resources.

(Not) Defining Aestheics

One of the initial problems is coming up with a useful sense of what ‘aesthetics’ means in this context. Starting with negative definition: I am not talking about the discourse of aesthetics that evaluates art and cultural artefacts in a way that would be recognisable to Art History. What I am doing is looking at concrete examples of people negotiating about issues of personal taste and trying to see how they are accomplishing those interactions.

Various existing attempts have been made to do something a bit like this – notably by Heath, Luff and vom Lehn in their studies of the ostensibly aesthetic context of museums 1.

These studies have thrown a fascinating light on how visitors to museums and galleries negotiate their attention to and awareness of these contexts. Some of their most elegant findings show, based on close observation of video recordings, how visitors’ body position and gaze indicate that their experience is constituted by a continuous and fragmentary noticing of multiple objects, artworks and other visitors. The kind of singular, fixed-position spectatorship of one object at a time that curators and artists may assume to be the case is conspicuously absent from their findings. Similarly, their studies of how groups of people, including strangers and family groups, organise their movement around the spaces and exhibits show how noticing – paying attention – is often accomplished interactionally. Specific objects, perspectives and ways of behaving in gallery spaces that again, question assumptions about the primacy of individual or ‘individualistic’ spectatorship in the gallery context.

By demonstrating the difference between the production imperatives indicated by the plans and stated intentions of curators, galleries and museums on the one hand, and the observable clues to visitors interactional experiences in museums and galleries on the other, this body of work provides a basis for their ongoing experiments with interactive exhibits and different museological approaches.

Heath et. al’s definition of aesthetics in this case seems motivated by a straight-forward decision to approach anything that happens in museums and galleries as aesthetic. By making this decision, based on initial assumptions and their own familiarity with certain traditions and cultural institutions, they were then able to expand a critical understanding of what cultural institutions are, how people behave in them, and how the context and the exhibits are used as interactional resources.

Aesthetics in Hagberg’s Wittgenstein

I’m doing something similar: I’m looking for a broader notion of aesthetics outside of the contextual frame of the musuem, or at least, not only within this frame. Wittgenstein 2 points out that aesthetics as an area of human concern is both ‘very big’ (in that it is involved in so many areas of life and action), and ‘entirely misunderstood’, by which he means, often limited to the study of a very small subset of things with which aesthetics might be ‘done’ (ie. Art) 3.

This ‘very big’ range of situations will have profoundly different pragmatic implications for a working understanding of aesthetics in each context, which might constitute completely different activities. The only way to find out is to look at each situation, and see it as a different pragmatic context for an understanding of a set of interactional exchanges that can be thought of, in an analytic context, as aesthetics. With this approach in mind, Not having a consistent or even coherent definition of aesthetics as an operational or contextual constant is not a problem. In fact, having to continually re-assess what we might mean by aesthetics by looking at how people negotiate various specific contexts is a major project of this research.

Looking at regularities that emerge from the data drawn from each context will then begin to generate a sense of what is general and what is particular about different interactional contexts and how various notions of aesthetics become relevant to the people involved.

Aesthetics in the context of Conversation Analysis

In the first paper I co-wrote on the subject, we reviewed foundational Conversation Analysis (CA) literature for everyday conversational devices used in accomplishing aesthetic assessments. For that study we sampled data from papers in the CA literature that dealt with ostensibly aesthetic topics such as the evaluation of an artwork. Specifically, the framing of aesthetics in the context of CA emerged from the selection of a conversational sequence from Anita Pomerantz’ paper on agreeing and disagreeing with assessments in which participants negotiate the assessment of one of the participants’ recently purchased artistic prints.

This approach and the use of readily available conversational data helped to ground my observations in the CA literature, while giving me a sense of how the mechanisms and devices of conversation such as turn-taking, preference organisation, and topic-shifting are used in the accomplishment of aesthetic assessments.

In the process of evaluating this print, I observed that the participants made all kinds of things relevant to their assessments including:

  • authorship,
  • knowledge of the author,
  • monetary value,
  • scarcity,
  • knowledge about the print,
  • correct spelling,
  • how ‘realistic’ it is, and
  • how much like a magazine advert it is.

So in the context of that conversation, the ways in which these topics are negotiated emerged as what I am thinking of as the practice of conversational aesthetics.

The next step is now to look at various other contextually specific practices of conversational aesthetics, which may well have different characteristics and regularities. The project is then to attend to the different ways in which some of these concepts may or may not be made relevant interactionally, as well as seeing what other kinds of topics and practices become evident.

Building up a vocabulary of conversational aesthetics by looking at the data and working up from there, I can interrogate specific interactional situations to see how they are accomplished and whether they relate to each other, without resorting to a grab-bag of pre-existing high level theoretical constructs.

Aesthetics in the context(s) of the Demographic BNC

The initial CA study has informed how I am approaching a different, if related, set of interactional situations. Looking outside the seemingly evident aesthetic context of Heath et. al’s art gallery or the evaluation of an artwork from Pomerantz’ paper (which could both fit into the narrow ontology of aesthetics that Wittgenstein thought ‘entirely misunderstood’) the purposive sampling of these conversations is geared towards opening up the question of how people do something that can be called aesthetics in their daily lives and interactions.

A lexical approach

Adopting a lexical, rather than a contextual or conceptual selection rationale, I searched for the word ‘beautiful’ in the demographic sections of the British National Corpus (BNC), a searchable archive of over 700 hours of naturalistic conversations, recorded by 124 people wearing tape recorders while going about their daily lives in the early 90s. The recent publication of the Audio BNC has enabled me to find and transcribe the original audio from these conversations, vastly improving on the accuracy of the existing transcriptions, and applying the detailed orthography required for CA-style analysis (I’ve written more about this on this blog).

The word ‘beautiful’ was chosen from a list of keywords picked intuitively as being likely to bring up conversations with a dimension of aesthetic assessment. Searches for domain-specific keywords such as artist names or art-related terms such as ‘artist’, ‘painting’ or ‘sculpture’, had very few hits in the demographic data (33, 153 and 13, respectively). By contrast, these specialist terms were frequently present in transcriptions of TV broadcasts, lectures and formal settings, but hardly at all in more everyday contexts such as having a cup of tea at home, or out shopping. ‘Beautiful’, however, was ubiquitous and plentiful in search results from both formal and informal contexts.

Because of their availability and broad distribution across the corpus, the results from the search for the word ‘beautfiul’ were selected for analysis. To try and focus on the most naturalistic interactions available, all conversations from formal settings such as classrooms, interviews, lectures and TV studios were discarded, leaving just under 200 conversations in 50 different files. Looking through these conversations one by one, conversations in which the word ‘beautiful’ occurred in longer, multi-party sequences rather than short statements or non sequiturs were selected to provide the most interactional data for analysis.

Objections to this approach

Sampling rationale is a significant issue in any Conversation Analytic project, as the sampling of data in CA tends to consist of a range of data, sampled from across a corpus, picked out for the analytic potential to thematise a specific conversational device. Paul Ten Have has said that “many researchers in CA emphasise that transcriptions should not be made with a specific research problem or hypothesis in mind […] The ideal would be to have a large corpus of very detailed transcripts that can be used to locate and analyze specific phenomena.” 4. Although the existing transcripts of the BNC are not sufficiently detailed or accurate to enable CA-device-level phenomena to be picked out, the transcripts make the phenomenon of word selection available for this kind of approach.

It may seem problematic to use a straight-forward lexical search term as a way of selecting data for a CA-informed analysis given that CA as a methodology looks for the “formal and anonymous” apparatus of conversation 5. Firstly, the practice of aesthetics in many contexts might well have nothing to do with the word ‘beautiful’, and even if it did, why not the noun form: ‘beauty’, or some other synonym? Similarly, there is very little hope that a lexical search would be able to distinguish between very different pragmatic uses of the same word (descriptive, bathetic, sarcastic etc.).

However, if Heath et al.’s sampling of what happens interactionally in the “perceptual range of the event” 6 – in their case, the museum or gallery context, can be the basis of what they call a “pragmatic aesthetics” 7, the same might be said of the instance of the word beautiful in everday talk. The lexical aspects of their talk might have a far less obvious impact on their interaction than its temporal and physical context, but as an almost arbitrary placeholder for sampling from an otherwise potentially boundless corpus of naturalistic interactions, it can serve a similar purpose.


  1. See, for example, Heath, C. (2004). Configuring Reception: (Dis-)Regarding the “Spectator” in Museums and Galleries. Theory, Culture & Society, 21(6), 43–65., Lehn, D. vom, & Heath, C. (2001). Configuring exhibits. The interactional production of experience in museums and galleries. Verbal Art across Cultures. Aesthetics 44(0), 1–19, or Lehn, D. Vom, Hindmarsh, J., & Luff, P. (2007). Engaging constable: revealing art with new technology. Proceedings of the SIGCHI.
  2. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Wittgenstein: Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief. University of California Press, 2007.
  3. Hagberg, G. (2008). Wittgenstein’s Aesthetics. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008.). Retrieved from
  4. Have, P. Ten. (1990). Methodological Issues in Conversation Analysis. Bulletin de méthodologie sociologique, (1), 1–24.
  5. See Sacks, Harvey. “On the preferences for agreement and contiguity in sequences in conversation.” Talk and social organisation 54 (1987): 69.
  6. Goffman, Erving. Forms of talk. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981. p.3
  7. vom Lehn, Dirk. “Die Kunst der Kunstbetrachtung: Aspekte einer Pragmatischen Ästhetik in Kunstausstellungen.” Soziale Welt (2006): 83-99.

Aesthetic Assessments in the BNC Read More »

From The Morality of Ethnomethodology

If all social life is “essentially practical,”Marx’s theory itself must have been an outgrowth of his particular “ensemble of social relationships.” To turn it into a theory about the world seems a mockery. A better use would seem to be to seek to experience its truth in the everyday. Politics are thcn not claimed as something people have;they are actions people do.There are nothings in the sensuous world like “bourgeois consciousness” or “class” or”the capitalist system,” there are only people doing their lives in a succession of here-and-nows. To treat these people as abstract categories illustrates the alienation of the theorist, not the alienation of those the theorist talks about.

The Morality of Ethnomethodology, Hugh Mehan & Houston Wood Theory and Society, Vol. 2, No. 4. (Winter, 1975), pp. 509-530.

From The Morality of Ethnomethodology Read More »

Conversation Analytic Transcription with CLAN

I have been looking for software tools and a sensible workflow for making Conversation Analytic style transcriptions, and I haven’t found any really useful resources that weigh up the pros and cons of different approaches.

Lorenza Mondada’s very useful presentation on using ELAN for transcription does the most concise job of summarising the main choice point in this decision:

Transcription and representation of the flow of talk and multimodal conducts:

  • Transposition from time to space
  • Representation of time is crucial
  • Two formats exist :
    • The list format (ex. CLAN, Transana,…)
    • The partition format (ex. Praat, ELAN, ANVIL,…) –> based on an infinite timeline
    • For a CA perspective on talk, the list format is more adequate for the representation of sequentiality; however, for a multimodal analysis of various simultaneous lines of action, the partition format is very useful
  • These formats have analytical implications

So I began looking at various list-format transcriber options: CLAN, Transana, and Transcriber were the ones I checked out.

Transana didn’t seem to work under Linux at all, so that was a non-starter – even though there were Unix python sources available they looked more or less abandoned to me.

Transcriber was actually in my apt repository! which was a nice surprise. I installed it and got it up and running in minutes. Unfortunately, it looked terrible, used ancient audio devices in Linux, and felt very awkward to use.

I decided to use CLAN for the following reasons:

  • It’s saves human-readable text files I can munge and edit in vim (or any other text editor)
  • it uses key-commands for almost everything (little mouse-work necessary)
  • clean, stable and simple interface and media player integration
  • It’s highly modular, separating a windowed transcription system from command-line-centric analytical tools

Basically, it has a very unixy-philosophy to it (specialised tools, loosely coupled) and it’s a joy to use.

Here’s my workflow:

Currently I am enhancing some existing transcriptions from the BNC using the original audio from the Audio BNC, which I wrote about in more detail here.


First I search for the rough transcription I’m after using Matthew Purver’s‘s SCoRE tool. Using my favourite text editor, I munge this into a text file with one turn per line, and no turn numbering.


Then I copy and paste this into CLAN’s text editor, which I’m running under WINE – there isn’t a unix version yet. The image above shows a partially complete transcription, along with the audio track below. In order to show just how useful this system is for both transcription and for enhancing existing text transcriptions, I’ve made a short screencast:

Finally, I run the ‘indent’ tool on the resulting .cha file which aligns all the overlap markers and other semi-diagrammatic elements of a CA transcription. For more information on the various utilities included with CLAN, check out the CLAN user manual.


The resulting annotation looks pretty good in CLAN, while being both editable, searchable, and allowing timed viewing and adjusting of the linked media – either using text editing or CLAN’s integrated media browser/editor. The output (a .cex file) can just be copied and pasted into a word/libreoffice document:


Of course before publication, the CA-transcription style will still need to be painstakingly rendered in LaTeX, which is no fun at all. I guess a LaTeX export option is my only feature request for the very impressive CLAN toolset.

Conversation Analytic Transcription with CLAN Read More »

The Pragmatics of Aesthetic Assessment in Conversation

Here’s the presentation I just gave at Semdial 2012 in Paris.

Here’s the accompanying paper.
The Pragmatics of Aesthetic Assessments in Conversation
From the proceedings of Semdial 2012.


Judgements of taste are an intrinsic part of everyday conversational interactions: people make assessments and agree and disagree with them as a core part of how they participate in activities, create and share knowledge, and manage their relationships with one another. However, these conversational assessments can seem resistant to some forms of analysis in ways that are summed up neatly in the Scholastic idiom “there’s no accounting for taste”.

This paper approaches the difficulty of analysing judgements of taste in dialogue by looking at them in terms of the pragmatics of talk-in-interaction. An as-yet-unanalysed example of a conversation about an artwork is drawn from Anita Pomerantz’ seminal Conversation Analytic (CA) paper on conversational assessments, and examined in order to build up a picture of the mechanisms people use when making aesthetic assessments.

This analysis suggests that seemingly high-level aesthetic judgements are accomplished using the same ordinary mechanisms of conversational assessment ubiquitous in everyday talk. Some curious features of topic shifting within assessments are discussed, highlighting some methodological issues for this use of CA, and further research into naturalistic aesthetic assessment is proposed.

The Pragmatics of Aesthetic Assessment in Conversation Read More »

Of the Association of Ideas

Were the loosest and freest conversation to be transcribed, there would immediately be observed something which connected it in all its transitions. Or where this is wanting, the person who broke the thread of discourse might still inform you, that there had secretly revolved in his mind a succession of thought, which had gradually led him from the subject of conversation.

Section III of An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, David Hume

Of the Association of Ideas Read More »

Anita Pomerantz and Sister Corita Kent in Conversation



I found this conversation in Pomerantz’ paper over a year ago, and began to examine the detail of the exchange: how the participants manage thier assessments of the print, and what kinds of conversational devices and mechanisms they use to do so.

I never really thought to find out what they were talking about until I started working on the Audio BNC (my post about that here) and kept hearing lots of mis-transcribed names of artists and musicians in people’s conversations.

I had started searching for Mary Kerrida (sic) and even thought it might be a mistranscription of ‘querida’, and they were looking at some kind of religious print or icon of the Virgin. It just never occured to me, reading their conversation, that they might be talking about a piece by Sister Corita Kent, the peacenick pop-art nun.

When I found this print ‘Life’, I was struck by how little relevance the image seemed to have to the conversation, and how few identifiable descriptions appeared in talk. The only reference that enabled me to identify it (or so I think) was the question from participant E, querying the spelling of the word ‘life’ – a conversational/perceptual repair of sorts.

In fact when analysing this conversation, Pat Healey and I had to accept that there was no real evidence that E’s question was even part of the overall conversation at all.

That’s still the case I guess, and I can’t prove that they’re talking about this image, but this process, of reading a decontextualised transcript of a critique first, then finding the artist, then finally the image being critiqued, has been a useful case in point for a conversational aesthetic approach.

Anita Pomerantz and Sister Corita Kent in Conversation Read More »