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Seeing Degree ZeroBarthes/Burgin and Political Aesthetics$
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Ryan Bishop and Sunil Manghani

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474431415

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474431415.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Neutral Seeing: Saenredam, Barthes, Burgin

Neutral Seeing: Saenredam, Barthes, Burgin

(p.109) Neutral Seeing: Saenredam, Barthes, Burgin
Seeing Degree Zero

Sunil Manghani

Edinburgh University Press

Having established important theoretical links between both Barthes and Burgin in the previous chapter, this chapter turns directly to the book's key consideration of 'zero degree seeing'. It provides historical overview to Barthes' Writing Degree Zero before going onto explore a visual equivalent of the zero degree. The starting point is Barthes' essay on seventeenth-century Dutch painting, notably his commentary on Saenredam, whose complex, interlaced rendering of space and augmented perspective sets up a way of picturing that is echoed in the modernist writing of Robbe-Grillet, and Burgin's practice of a 'theoretical vision'.The notion of a 'zero degree' form in the arts remains an enigmatic idea, and not least for potential critique of and through political aesthetics. This chapter takes on the challenge (as does the volume more broadly) to offer an assessment of both what constitutes 'zero degree seeing' and how any such 'form' must always continue to evolve.

Keywords:   Sventlana Alpers, Roland Barthes, Victor Burgin, Brecht, Neutral, Pieter Saenredam, Writing Degree Zero

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