Jump to: navigation, search

Oxford Art Journal (2011) - Outscreaming the Laocoön: Sensation, Special Affects, and the Moving Image




First there is sensation : the coldness of dirt on a wintry Roman day; shovel hitting stone; and the startled confrontation with a frozen howl. Then there is affect: cognition; analysis; transformation; and containment. Finally, there is the moving image that results from this chance encounter. This essay examines the uneasy spectre of the ancient Roman sculptural group of "Laocoön and his sons" in its immediate moment of discovery in 1506 as well as its subsequent return in the art of Titian and Poussin. On the one hand, the discussion will be concerned with the visceral intensity that rips through the body of the spectator in the moment of confrontation; on the other hand, it will examine the eruptions that surface from this merging of ancient and modern identities. The former thinks about reception and the immediacy of aesthetic experience; the latter takes a more diachronic approach, wandering through a historical landscape of artistic actions and reactions. [Publication abstract]