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ekardt

ekardt

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Published by: Ryan Ananat on May 25, 2014
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05/25/2014

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 Philipp Ekardt 
, Sensing—Feeling—Imitating. Psycho-Mimeses in Aby Warburg Te concept o mimesis (
 Nachahmung 
) recurs throughout almost the entire temporal and thematic span o Aby Warburg’s work. Tis is not to say that Warburg ever developed a systematic account o mimesis as such, and not even o the role which mimesis specifically plays in the pro-duction, reception, and general cultural unctioning o images—themes central to his
 Kultur-
and
 Bildwissenscha 
, as well as to his art historical studies. Te absence o such a systematic analysis, or even a concise and reliable definition, is hardly surprising, since Warburg was anything but a builder o systematically organized theoretical or scientific edifices. Yet, the insistence with which the topic returns in his writings demonstrates at least a systematic interest on Warburg’s part and allows his readers to ormulate a ew organizing observations.
1
 Te present contribution offers a cross-section o a number o Warburg’s works, reaching rom his early
Grundlegende Bruchstücke zu einer pragmatischen Ausdrucks-kunde
 and a ew o his art historical studies, to comparatively late texts such as the lecture on the snake ritual o the Hopi tribes and the intro-duction to the
 Mnemosyne-Atlas
, a thematically organized inventory o transhistorically recurring figural patterns—bodies caught in movement and gesticulation—in the visual arts rom Greek antiquity to Warburg’s  present.
1
 Troughout all o these texts, a ragmentary, but not entirely inconsistent notion o mimesis emerges which covers subject-to-object-imitations as well as object-to-object-imitations. In the first case mimesis unctions as the link that binds the perceiving subject to the object o  perception or—more specifically—as a perceptual unction which posits anthropomorphizing similarity between subject and object. In the sec-ond case mimesis creates a link o resemblance between a human figure,
 Der Artikel unternimmt – unter besonderer  Berücksichtigung der bislang unveröffentlich- ten Auzeichnungen zur Ausdruckskundeeine systematisierende Rekonstruktion von Warburgs fagmentarischer Teorie der Nach-  ahmung. Warburg denkt Mimesis als psycholo-  gischen Vorgang, der Perzeptions- und Emo-tionsprozesse mit affektiven Feedbacks ver-knüp, die durch Symbolisierungsleistungen erzeugt werden. Dabei erhält Warburg we- sentliche Impulse aus der Einühlungsästhetik und insbesondere aus Robert Vischers Schri
Das optische Formgeühl
. Besonderes Augen- merk gilt den von Warburg beschriebenen  Effekten mimetischer Vorgänge: dem Geühl, das aus dem Ähnlichkeitsabgleich zwischen der Gestalt des wahrnehmenden und des wahrgenommenen Körpers entsteht; der an-thropomorphisierend-projektiven Funktion der Ursachensetzung im Wahrgenommenen  sowie ihrer psychisch-distanzierenden Funk-tion. Außerdem skizziert der ext die zeit-lichen und strukturellen Variationen, die Warburgs Mimesis-Verständnis im Vergleich  zur Nachahmungslehre der klassischen Äs-thetik (Winckelmann) anbietet.
1 /
Te aim and scope o this article do not allow or an exhaustive treatment o the entirety o Warburg’s writings, nor will it be possible to do ull justice to Warburg-scholarship here. However, since the pre-sent text orms part o a more encompassing
 
󰀱󰀰󰀲–
 ilinx 󰀲, 󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀱
 Ekardt 
, Psycho-Mimeses in Warburg 
󰀱󰀰󰀳󰀲–󰀳 /
 󰀲󰀰
investigation into the relation o a-ectivity, the unction o art and im-ages, and ormal instability in War-burg’s thought, the author hopes to give a more complete account in the not too distant uture. Tanks to Claudia Wedepohl or directions through Warburg’s notes at the ar-chive o the Warburg Institute; to Christopher Wood, whose seminars at Yale University provided a first o-rum or some o these ideas; and to  Jess Atwood Gibson or her editorial support.
1
Aby Warburg,
 Bilderatlas  Mnemosyne
, panel 󰀶, London,  Warburg Institute
 
a wave o hair, textile drapery and their respective pictorial representations, but also between the snake and a strike o lightning, as depicted in symbol-ic Hopi drawings.
2
 In addition to these two aspects, Warburg also theoriz-es more complex mimetic processes that eed back rom object-imitations into the subject-object-relation and alter, or differentiate it. He holds that the artistic return o later periods to the figural patterns o Greek antiquity, but also the imitation o animal figures in ritual practices, to quote but two examples, exert an influence on how the mimetically triggered processes in the perceiving subject take shape at the level o emotions.o promise the reader o the present text a coherent and all-encompassing  presentation o Warburg’s ideas on imitation would amount to an act o deception. However, two reliable aspects can be identified in advance. First, as briefly laid out above, Warburg’s concept o mimesis spans more than a
2
Hopi schoolboy,
 Lightning with serpent head 
, 󰀱󰀸󰀹󰀶, drawing, London, Warburg Institute

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