By Jeffrey C. Alexander (Ed.), Dominik Bartmanski (Ed.), Bernhard Giesen (Ed.)
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Additional resources for Iconic Power: Materiality and Meaning in Social Life
Revitalized, the Yale Art Gallery is “sleek,” its sensuous surface fully possessing the aesthetic power to suck us in. ” Gallery surface draws us into a Gallery depth. ” Architectural surface connects us to Yale sacred ground. ” The depth of the Gallery’s aesthetic surface is linked to these historical surroundings, for Yale is not just a great university but also a historical container for the most sacred art of early modern and modern times. ” Discussing the decades of obfuscating accretions to the Kahn building that now stand corrected, Ouroussoff condemns them as grossly insensitive, not only as ugly aesthetically but offensive morally.
Provided that the deceased entered the world of the ancestors, who count as the creators of the world in this culture, the depiction is also about the anonymous presence of the cosmic creators who are at the same time experienced outside of the chains of generations in the abundance of time. The deceased person will not enter the realm of ordinary forgetting. The image makes her visible as the mental image of her ancestors, as the embodiment of their powers. This representation is based on a chiasm.
One might think of an icon as a performer, sending off signals according to how it is designed. The effects of these signals, their signaling power, cannot be measured, however, simply by the intentions of an object’s designer, even if it has one. There is the matter of reception, of audience impact. Between projected meanings and audience response are a series of mediations. In addition to its design, projecting iconic power depends, for example, on access to the means of symbolic production. You need a stage for the designed product, and lighting and photography to portray it.