Essays in French Literature, Thought and Visual Culture
Timothy Mathews Trauma, Witness, Form: Thinking Walter Benjamin with Alberto Giacometti 161
Timothy Mathews Trauma, Witness, Form: Thinking Walter Benjamin with Alberto Giacometti [O]n ne voit pas réellement grandeur nature. […] [V]ous agrandissez mentalement. Parce que vous savez que ma tête a une certaine dimension. Et vous imaginez cette dimension. Mais vous ne la voyez pas. Vous me voyez petit et vous agrandissez.1 These are the words of Giacometti in an interview with Pierre Dumayet in 1963, four years before his death. We do not see anyone life size. View- ers see other people not only from a point of view, but in a point of view, from within a space defined by the adjustments which allow other people to be located in space. The adjustments we make in seeing each other, while common to us all, also separate us. My visual adjustments may involve the same visual procedures as yours, but they do not translate my viewing point into yours. On the contrary, they confirm my way of seeing; show the seeing of you made in my own seeing. Even the showing of my seeing does not allow me to step beyond the space of my seeing, or to find it or locate it in relation to others. The event of seeing is increasingly isolating in the act itself of seeing, and in the process of reaching out to others through seeing. Seeing a person involves losing sight of a person; or beginning to; or equally, it involves watching a person emerging translated into my own self-adjusting terms...
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