In Volker Harlan’s interview with the artist Joseph Beuys, Beuys refers to our habit of “retinal seeing” not only as it relates to visual art, but also to the rest of the world, including each other. According to Beuys, this sort of seeing is superficial, passive, and cold. He insists that only a more active, multi-sensory, and participatory mode of sensing reality, one that involves the imagination, will keep us from plummeting further into alienating and unhealthy social forms. In my experience, the outcome of protracted retinal seeing is apathy. We are called upon, therefore, to take up a practice of cultivating a more conscious and creative engagement with our lives and our communities, treating each as great art projects, what Beuys calls “social sculpture.” The freehoodship is my attempt at social sculpture.
beyond retinal seeing
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