Throughout history, and all over the world, people respond to paintings, sculptures and buildings as if they are alive: they say that they move, speak or look at the beholder. In early modern Italy a paradoxical variety of this response is very wide-spread: works of art or buildings are considered to be so lifelike that they become alive in the viewers'experience. The representation dissolves into what it represents.
The studies of two researchers previously working within the VICI-project ‘Art, Agency and Living Presence’ are now published by Leiden University Press in conjunction with Akademie Verlag.
To understand living presence responses, the programme builds on the conspicuous feature that during these responses the representation ceases to be perceived as such. It will therefore analyse works of art and the responses they elicit not in terms of representation, but in terms of agency. That is, it considers them not as signs, images, codes or depictions referring to something outside themselves, but as agents acting upon the viewer.