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The Philosophy of RhythmAesthetics, Music, Poetics$
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Peter Cheyne, Andy Hamilton, and Max Paddison

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780199347773

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199347773.001.0001

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Pictorial Experience and the Perception of Rhythm

Pictorial Experience and the Perception of Rhythm

(p.307) 19 Pictorial Experience and the Perception of Rhythm
The Philosophy of Rhythm

Jason Gaiger

Oxford University Press

Painting, drawings, and engravings are frequently described as rhythmic, or as possessing rhythmic features, but it is far from clear how such observations are to be understood. The central problem here is that rhythm is standardly recognized to be an inherently temporal phenomenon: rhythmic structure or organization unfolds in time. If rhythm is essentially durational, how can a static configuration of marks and lines be rhythmic? Chapter 19 defends the view that although the experience of viewing a picture takes place in time, and thus is successive, it cannot be temporally structured in a sufficiently determinate manner to sustain the attentional focus required for the communication of even simple rhythmic patterns. With reference to examples of both representational and abstract art, and to recent empirical research, the author argues that graphic art is non-sequential and that this has important consequences for picture perception.

Keywords:   rhythm, pictures, paintings, drawings, rhythmic structure, perception

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