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Intimacy and Disparity: The Constructive Interference of Image in Relation with Text

Allen Fisher
Department of Contemporary Arts, Manchester Metropolitan University

Visual art and poetry, written narratives and images, have creatively interfered in most art historical periods. The developments in Dante's text from his experience of visual attention to the Gothic art that preceded him, have reciprocated into an extraordinary and unpredictable array of subsequent work from Sandro Botticelli, William Blake and Robert Rauschenberg, all responding directly to Dante's work. The reciprocation between poetry and painting in Romantic Europe, continued in Expressionism and Surrealism, leads to a discussion of how one discipline changes the attention in another. The poetics of Marcel Duchamp's writing in relation to his images, the controversial interface between text and image in the work of R.B. Kitaj and the new attentions provided through the work of Ken Kiff, all lead to a disparate range of proposals for the efficacy and disadvantages these encounters provide. Much of the controversy derives from particular understandings of the differences between illustration and stand-alone visual work. Intimacy and Disparity proposes to put the emphasis differently, to understand the creative interference that damages the pristine presumptions of the visual artist or the poet and hopes to encourage a complexity that is still worth attending to.