Visual Poetics is a research group in theatre, film and related artistic media at the University of Antwerp, divided in 4 areas of research: performative, intermedial, artist's and textual poetics.
Poetics derives from "poiesis", or "active making". The poetics of an artistic medium places the artwork at the center of study and studies the finished work as the result of a process of construction. It mounts explanations how the artwork works and why under certain circumstances it came to look the way it did. It reveals, more specifically, the inextricable weaving together of representation and discourse, the imbrication of visual and verbal experience at the core of performance and cinema.
Visual poetics doesn't constitute a distinct critical school. It has no privileged semantic field, no core of procedures for interpreting, no unique rhetorical tactics. Any inquiry into the fundamental principles by which theatre and cinema are constructed, and the effects that flow from those principles, can fall within the domain of visual poetics.
A research project in visual poetics may be primarily analytical, studying particular devices across a range of works or a particular work: it takes as its object a body of conventions; observation of general tendencies with a scrutiny of particulars. Or it can be mainly historical: trying to understand how theatre and cinema assume certain forms within a period or across periods.
Visual poetics considers critics of visual art to be makers too, and could analyze their materials, principles, and concerns with effect both from an analytical and historical perspective. In this context the primary interest lies with "ekphrasis", or the engagement with performance and film through language.
In poetics the choices of the artist will also be correlated with some purpose ¿ the design of the work, its function or effect on the perceiver. Poetics is interested in wider cultural factors and intersubjective data, but only as they relate to the question at hand.
It doesn't neglect the influence of society, ideology, or culture on audiences or viewers, but assumes that cultural activities are mental in an important sense: learned, recalled and rethought by the embodied minds of social agents. To study intent and effect of the artwork, a mentalistic poetics is proposed, provided by what we broadly call the cognitive approach to mental life.
The primary interest is a group of vision-competencies a human being can develop by seeing and at the same time having and integrating other sensory experiences, what John Debes calls "visual literacy".
How to quote: Paulus, Tom & Vanhoutte, Kurt. "Mission Statement." Research Centre for Visual Poetics. Universiteit Antwerpen, May 2012. Web. (Date of access)