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Auerbach Lecture | 04.07.2022 | 18 Uhr

Fabio Tommy Pellizzer (Philosophy, Venice): Imagining with Shadows. Tracing Imagination in the Folds of Reality


The lecture will explore the potential of shadows for interpreting the intertwining between reality and imagination. The hypothesis is that shadows are indicative of how humans engage with perceptual ambiguities and ephemeral phenomena in a creative way, and of how this capacity re-shapes the ecology of human mind, according to highly complex and variable ‘imaginary patterns’. Shadows have been studied marginally, and if so, primarily as visual elements of the real. Shadows, in this perspective, are ‘true’ or ‘deceptive’ information concerning the real world in which we live and move (for instance, we use them to tell the seize or trajectory of objects). However, shadows can be more than this; indeed, they are used to imagine or play. The lecture will draw examples from archaeology, art and everyday experience (e.g. cave art, shadow play) in order to highlight the implications of human creative engagement with shadows. On the one hand, the lecture will use philosophical and phenomenological concepts in order to identify invariants in this phenomenon (e.g. forms of belief and awareness, perceptual possibilities, emotions). On the other hand, the lecture will consider how such use of shadows have been factually accomplished in different ways (according to times and places). Recognizing this variety, it will be argued, is necessary to understand this specific phenomenon, and is also functional for a more concrete approach to the problem of imagination, interpreted as a practice embedded in material contexts. 

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