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Language in Copley's Gibraltar - Essay Example

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Name Instructor Class 24 November 2011 “Language” in Copley's Gibraltar The Siege and Relief of Gibraltar, 14th September 1782, c.1783 “Language” in the art world refers to the “visual language” (Rumold 77), while in communication, “language” is composed of arbitrary symbols and their combinations that can be used to express ideas and feelings, such as through words, facial expressions, and gestures…
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Language in Copleys Gibraltar
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Language in Copley's Gibraltar

Download file to see previous pages... Dadaism “unbound” language and played with its potential. I also want to “unbind” “language” as a concept by relating it to one of John Singleton Copley's paintings, The Siege and Relief of Gibraltar. I selected the word “language,” because it has a large role in several defining experiences of my college life. In this essay, I describe painting as a “language” in itself that can be directly experienced, struggled with, and enjoyed, which is like learning a second “language.” A painting has a “language” that can be directly experienced, when the audience try to interpret its implied stories and meanings. The Siege and Relief of Gibraltar tells the story of the battle between two old superpowers, Spain and Great Britain, a battle that can be related to the struggles of learning a second language. The painting asks the audience to see the Battle at Gibraltar in splendid action and drama with definitive winners and losers. It is neatly divided into two planes of the two groups. The British are depicted as an orderly and coordinated team. General Sir George Eliott leads his men through giving orders on how to float the Spanish flotillas or floating batteries. The Spaniards witness their flotillas sinking along with their crew. They are portrayed, not only as the losers, but also as barely human beings, because of the lack of details in how they were painted. I look at this painting and it teases my imagination, as I think about Eliott's ingenuity in planning always three steps ahead. I can feel the experience of the action in the battlefield. I designate myself as an impassioned observer, but amazed at the military tactics and technologies used during these times. General Sir George Eliott has planned everything so well that his men hardly had to do anything, while the Spaniards, in sharp contrast, resemble cats who are at their ninth life. They will try everything to survive. The Siege and Relief of Gibraltar has embedded meanings and implications that “language” can dismantle. This visual reading is similar to learning a second “language,” where I also have to make sense of the arbitrary symbols the English “language.” I find it perplexing to no longer see my native “language” as arbitrary, because I have grown with it. It is part of my breathing already. Yet this other “language” loses its natural character and becomes emerged into arbitrariness, transforming it into an alien code that I have to learn and decipher. I understand now why Dadaism undermined the linguistic sign. A foreign “language” can take a psychophysiological eidetic experience, one that can be broken apart and played with (Rumold 77). In addition, Copley's painting fits what Keats describes as the ability of a work of art to become a “made” entity that catch the audience by “teasing [them] out of thought” (cited in Behrendt 37). Truly, reading a painting can bring the audience to an “imaginative alternative reality” (Behrendt 38). Furthermore, the painting, as an experience, pushes the audience to attack the works through reflecting on the process that it is perceived and assessed (Behrendt 38). Learning a second “language” also invited me to be critical of this perception process. How do I see English as a “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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