Forget the study, the books, and the armchair. Thinking is not a lone, individual act but a social process, embedded in what I have called “the social buzz”: the constant implicit discussion – agreement, disagreement, qualification, passionate opining – of ideas by the people constituting the social environment of the thinker. Three aspects can be derived from that collective nature of thought. They are, respectively: performativity, theorizing, and "anachronising". The life of thoughts is like that of images: both are enduring as well as constantly changing, and collectively sustained. They are subject to debate, and thus entice people to do the thinking with, through, in, more than about the world, including its visual and audio manifestations. We do not "read" the content of thought in an image but make, construct it, in interaction with it. This is how ideas themselves can be said to participate in the thinking that produces them: in interaction (performatively), in theoretically relevant ways (as theoretical object), and across time (anachronistically). In these respects, thought is quite like art. I find it useful to keep thought and art in each other’s company, as a form of intermediality. Creativity and the imagination are essential to both. Thinking, when it is in touch with the world is a form of analysing. And since it is largely based on what we see around us, it is anchored in visuality. This lecture concerns not thought about art but art about thought, and interdisciplinary and intermedial practice as a form of theory. How can we “image” thought in this sense of process? This is what the five-screen installation Reasonable Doubt with photographs will drive home, in particular by means of music, that has a starring role in this project. But also voice, language and communication across linguistic borders, as well as screaming fits of hysteria, all contribute to the thought we cannot help but developing, constantly, in social settings.
About Mieke Bal
Mieke Bal is a cultural theorist, critic, video artist and occasional curator. She works in cultural analysis, literature and art, focusing on gender, migratory culture, psychoanalysis, and the critique of capitalism.
Her many books include a trilogy on political art: Endless Andness (on abstraction), Thinking in Film (on video installation), both 2013, Of
What One Cannot Speak (on sculpture, 2010). Her work comes together in A Mieke Bal Reader (2006). In 2016 appeared In Medias Res: Inside
Nalini Malani’s Shadow Plays (Hatje Cantz), and in Spanish, Tiempos trastornados on the politics of visuality (AKAL). Her video project Madame B, with Michelle Williams
Gamaker, is widely exhibited, in 2017 in Museum Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova in Turku, and combined with paintings by Edvard Munch in the Munch Museum in Oslo. Her most recent film is Reasonable
Doubt, on René Descartes and Queen Kristina (2016). The installation of that project has premiered in Kraków in 2016, and has been shown in 2017 in Amsterdam, Brisbane and