Homo Spectans: The Looking Man. Composition and construction. A lecture by Andrey Velikanov


The lecture will deal with the principles of visual perception established throughout the history of culture.

One-point perspective invented in the Renaissance era and the subject-object relationship typical of classical philosophy suggested a univocal worldview which predetermined the perception of man in European culture. Having a “viewpoint” is natural for us as we feel ourselves observers occupying a particular position. Our eyesight is a precise tool of comprehending reality, although to “see” or imagine the world entirely is only possible notionally. Ancient man understood vision differently, attributing, for instance, a magical effect to the gaze. Throughout the history of mankind, the ability to look and see was changing which oftentimes was influenced by art. One of the most exciting debates about visual perception and its representation happened between two artists, Alexander Rodchenko and Vladimir Favorsky.

“We climb a mountain, follow winding paths, crawl up the slopes clasping the trees, go through saddles, and, finally, reach the peak, wherefrom we see the valley and feel that enormous height we have walked up. Again, here we have been using our eyesight all the time, as if measuring the space, but what we actually saw were just separate pieces of cliffs, peaks, roads and the like, while we got the idea of the whole mountain, of its shape via those movements which connected the single visual episodes with each other.”

(Vladimir Favorsky. Lectures on Composition Theory. 1921–1922)


Andrey Velikanov is a philosopher, art theorist, and artist. His publications on art and cultural theory include Am I a Trembling Simulacrum, or Do I Have the Right? (NLO, 2007). He has taught at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russian State University for the Humanities, UNIC Institute, Wordshop Communications Academy, Moscow 1905 Art Academy, MediaArtLab Open School, Center of Avant-Garde at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, and Free Workshops Art School, and regularly gives talks and takes part in discussions at various venues. He is also a recipient of several media art awards and prizes including Ostranenie (Germany), DADANET (Russia), Art on the Net (Japan), TrashArt (Russia), Southwest Interactive Festival (U.S.A.), and Split (Croatia).


Free admission