A Question about Interpretation and Influence

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Something bugging me. It’s been bugging me since 100 Days 2008. But it’s come back since I’ve been reading Hargood and Millard on Narrative and Theme.

It’s bugging me in a good way.

But here’s the story.

Let’s say you watch John Timmons’s video perusals. Of course, a first viewing will produce an interpretation or reaction, whatever it may be.

Then read my response to it in the form of Grandfather’s Favorite Spot.

Then go back and view John Timmons’s video again. The idea is that the interpretation of the video will be permanently altered because of the fiction and the viewer can never have their original interpretation back. The video is permanently changed, even if the viewer discounts the second work. (An opposing issue would seem to be “forgetting.”)

The same phenomenon is at work in the following example:

Let’s say a viewer encounters Carianne Mack Garside’s watercolor called progress.

Then the viewer encounter a re-contexting of it in poetic form. This poem, for example. This will happen if one purchases the 2008 book which places the context for these works in juxtaposition.

If the viewer goes back to the painting after having read the poem, the interpretive context is “permanently” altered. I observed and thought about this during the gallery show of the 2008 work. Blake opens his Experience poems with a pointer to the notion, thus the theme of innocence and experience is baked into the concept.

Hear the voice of the Bard,
Who present, past, and future, sees;

I’m not making an argument for the degree to which the original interpretation is changed. But that original experience is lost forever. It may not be profound and in some cases it won’t matter all that much to world affairs, as when a person on the lot finds a better car than the one they first saw and might have purchased. But I am seeking a name for the phenomenon.


One response to “A Question about Interpretation and Influence”

  1. Darren Bruno says:

    The closest term I could come up with is “eisegesis” generally used to describe the misinterpretation of text. It doesn’t quite describe your phenomenon but I think it might lead to a substantive definition. Hermeneutics, although not adapted to non-textual work, is the only sub-school of epistemology I would consider equipped-enough to define such phenomenon.

    Good luck though, I am curious to see what word would be applied to that experience.