Structure in Lieu of Composition


In an earlier post (HERE), I mentioned that I’ve been been wondering what it would mean to think in terms of structure, where one would normally use the word ‘composition,’ in lieu of composition, in the place it has occupied in art criticism.

Of Merriam-Webster’s definition:

: the action of building : construction
a : something (as a building) that is constructed
b : something arranged in a definite pattern of organization (a rigid totalitarian structure — J. L. Hess> (leaves and other plant structures)
: manner of construction : makeup (Gothic in structure)
a : the arrangement of particles or parts in a substance or body (soil structure) (molecular structure)
b : organization of parts as dominated by the general character of the whole (economic structure) (personality structure)
c : coherent form or organization (tried to give some structure to the children’s lives)
: the aggregate of elements of an entity in their relationships to each other (the structure of a language)

… placing particular emphasis on  1, 4 b and 5 (italics mine), and drawing a link between PROCESS and PERSONALITY STRUCTURE (thinking of this, perhaps, in psychoanalytic terms)

Carrying this a bit further, a passage by Lacan in Ecrits, Appendix II: Metaphor of the Subject, suggests to me, yet another reason for this.

“This means that the most serious reality, and even the sole serious reality for man, if one considers its role in sustaining the metonymy of his desire, can only be retained in metaphor.
What am I trying to get at, if not to convince you that what the unconscious brings back to our attention is the law by which enunciation can never be reduced to what is enunciated in any discourse?”

… how, in thinking about a painting. this allows one to give full regard to its materiality, and at the same time, opens critical analysis to metaphor… without reducing the painting to that which it might be perceived as signifying (“representing”), visual metaphor that resists subsummation to the semiotic, as is the discourse that dominates so much of art history–which, again, Hubert Damisch’s A Theory of /Cloud/ so brilliantly avoids.
What then of painting that does away with signification, is it then without metaphor Or is the denial of semiotic signification (this is that), a kind of master-metaphor, reminding us of the futility of deciphering (from written cipher to visual?) metaphors, which shape-shift away from whatever form (or formula) we try to fix them to?


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