Colegiul National "Moise Nicoara" Arad

About Sensitivity as Perception

A little inroad in the world of visual communication

Claudia Sapta


University of Toulouse UPS

Listening to what life was telling me, I caressed new dreams,

I stepped on the realms of new realities.

Jacques Salomé

In the following lines I would like to tell you about a way of approaching visual communication. Communication as a filigree of more fields of study questions pedagogical subjects which reveal a manner of approach, just as much conceptual as practical. In some manner, this binder[1] communication represents the philosophy of the courses that I teach to my French students. For the moment, the space dedicated for these courses which deal with active pedagogy and that focus on structuring the student’s project, future specialist in one of the departments of IT, Mathematics (in brief, the hardcore sciences), is rather refrained. But rather refrained is in itself a good beginning.

The frequent conversations with my students after classes have encouraged me to advance on the paths of an ethical and responsible communication.

As you may very well know, I am a member of the Centre 0f Trandisciplinary Studies from Paris (Ciret) and I will not hide from you the fact that I have been following with great interest your contributions to the T Magazine. I have been pleasantly surprised to discover the spirit of acuity, the originality of the topics, the intellectual efforts which you, pupils and students, bring in, in order to move forward in a new manner of thinking according to the practical spirit of the daily life. I am saying practical, because transdisciplinarity is lived at an actual and factual level, from which derives all our interest regarding this topic.

I would also like to make known the fact that, personally, I reckon that you have the wonderful chance of having teachers (here I am referring especially to Ms. Muresan) who put a lot of extraordinary effort in order to encourage you on the path of an original, critical, and constructive study, in the beginning of this extremely fastidious millennium.

Before I started writing, my prime objective was to give a clear vision of the subject above mentioned. I wished to find an alternative between form and content, an eloquent alternative that would overcome an inevitably abstract level. Besides this preoccupation is my continuing motivation in everything that I undertake.

On this occasion I would like to give you an example: preoccupied, amongst other things, with painting, in this summer I reviewed a painting (still art) which represented flowers. When I say preoccupied, that does not necessarily mean that I have pictorial talent, but that I take a liking in mixing colours; in consequence, I choose rather easy topics. Coming back to the painting, I added some supplementary elements, in the sense that I resorted to erasing some layers and adding a new effect. The outcome was relatively interesting.

Now, you’ll ask me: okay and what’s this have anything to do with visual communication and the fact that I am addressing you with the help of this magazine?

So, reflecting on the way in which I planned to write these lines that I insisted on writing in Romanian, my wish was to report a proper, definite[2] vision of transdisciplinarity. Taking as example the relation we establish (as viewers) with a photography, a picture, no matter how naïve it may be, we find that we are facing a rather profound meaning. The idea of illustrating this relationship occurred to me the moment in which I put the canvas in front of the window, trying a new perception-approach. The light changed everything almost entirely, which made the result even more encouraging (in other words, my theory was turning out rather well so far).

Here is the painting in question:



Now, try to just look at it without the temptation of an analysis. Just look, and try letting yourselves get carried away by the rhythm of the sentiments (they can be very diverse) stirred by this image.

What do you see?[3]

Personally I think that each and every one of us, pausing in front of this image, conveys something novel (in the sense of the novelty that lies in every single look) and without modifying it, or despoiling the probable meaning that the artist, photographer wished to give it, like some sort of flying in a flash of a moment, we endow it with our expectations, our dreams or even more, with our possible evasions that the spirit, now set free, can create.

In order to be able to understand an image it is not necessary for us to be so called cultivated[4] persons. Most of the time, the picture does nothing else other than address our sensitivity, or how I like to call it, sensitive intelligence. Of course, the capacity of developing parallel and complementary paths of analysis is what prevents us from falling into sentimentalism, fear or other contradictory or disturbing sentiments.

The role of the images is to shake us awake from the drowsiness so that we can express whatever it is that needs to be expressed within us; in a way it is as if we let ourselves get carried away without manifesting any resistance (be it cognitive, psychological or affective) on a wave of expressing the inexpressible. This manifestation gains in frankness perhaps because of a moment of silence, of withdrawal in one’s self, of meditation or conversation. Sometimes we can converse without the use of words. Maybe you’ve already had the chance of experiencing such a perceptive manner. The effect is astonishing.

In this respect, pictures are a formidable means of communication, communication in the sense of a «gathering together not of what we know, or hear, but as a scattering without any hesitation of what we feel, perceive, and discover beyond the trivial of appearances, but in the depths of a self  hearing. ». (J. Salomé, 2001)

The encounter between a picture and a person is the encounter between two sensitivities.

The images trigger on us a certain capacity of reversibility in the sense that we interpret them, and they overlap our interpretations reaching more and more elaborate forms, constitutive of a percussive manner. Just as an initiative path, the pictures operate with symbolical functions, which have as a characteristic precisely the fact that they are not definitive or absolute, but more rather veiled, rediscovering themselves little by little, but only halfway through. The road that an image covers towards us coincides with the road, only on an opposite side, that we cover with ourselves. This is about a concomitant effect of exteriorization-interiorization. Paradoxically, an image, instead of pulling us away from ourselves, most of the time lets us sink even further in our own depths (and here I am referring to the subconscious).

Normally we say that we escape and evade with the help of beautiful scenery, that we float away or travel, but in reality things are a little more complex.

In this respect we can talk about an opening towards and from within reality which is double, or better yet, triple. Because in this reversibility lies some sort of inexplicable, an inherence of human nature itself, with a propensity towards sensibility. We all carry this secret with us. This is why we used to say one day that transdisciplinarity is being lived as a grace.

This way the reversibility of an image resorts, in the background, to our ability of approaching reality. I wonder, do we live the objects, images, the snapshots caught live, the flashes of multiple meaning, or do the images live us?

Communication, as well as visual communication, via different works of art appealing to sensibility, is in itself an interrogation of ourselves, as well as a possible interrogation (as a potentiality) over the other, the man beside us, of life which lives us, not only him but us as well.

The image makes itself; it pre-makes itself endowed with our sensitive expectations. It becomes, slowly but surely, a path, a way, a story, a sentiment, a breath, an opening… and why not, advancing on this road, becoming empathy[5].

Sharing emotions, we open ourselves in front of the other and at the same time we allow him to open himself with trust. While he speaks, he talks himself in and out; perhaps some unthinkable paths are opening before him. (Before him can also be conjugated with before me, so therefore us). From an ethical point of view, we do not have the right to establish such an opening under the pretext that the vision of the other does not correspond with our own vision referring to a certain subject or idea. Because this is how Léon Bloy used to say, it is unknown who gives and who receives.

A picture acts in mysterious ways on us, which is why it is essential that we learn how to approach the reality that this is painting. It is some sort of a risk, the one of perceiving the gesture or intention, “the risk of the word (NB: the images convey words and silences), that presents itself at times under the form of a gift or a sign of affection that can be felt by the consignee as a form of aggression or violence.” (J. Salomé, 2001). This is why we find it sometimes hard to understand a visual representation, which makes our certainties and moral values stagger.

In such a demeanour, the role of pedagogy and communication is to prepare us for our approach with reality – which is every single time a personal point of view (each of us represents a unique personality) – with that prudence that our culture dictates us, that civilian culture, that is a required custom that is equivalent to mutual respect, understanding and veritable communication (under the form of dialogue). The pedagogy of communication receives the task of translation the paths of communication of multiple perceptions. Its purpose is given by the ethics of individual responsibility which sets itself above the technical or social skills about which we’ve been oh so much talking about lately.

Having arrived here, I have nothing else to do than wish you all sorts of accomplishments; each of you is capable of them (each can combine colours, grasp bits of a picture, just as I have). I hope that you sanctify more time (what is, at the end of the day, time? Isn’t it so that we find it odd when the great majority of us say: I don’t have time?) to this wonderful story that is yours and largely belongs to the images that you live, and that live you.

Translated in English by Daniela Marin – Corciu

I would like to conclude with the words of the poet, Suheir Hammad[6]: language cannot transform me in an equation, for I am living in an exponential manner.

So, write your own poems. With courage.

Until the next time.

NB: the translations of the quotes are free translations.

A suggestion of a poetic lecture in order to complete these lines: Jacques Salomé, Lettres à l’intime de soi, Albin Michel 2001

A video recording presenting an interesting point of view: La disparition du monde réel


[1]  On this occasion I would like to raise a tribute to Mrs. Irina Urcan, who noted the first demeanour in which, as a student, I was approaching literature, qualifying my own style of chemical. The binder effect or catalyst continued to impregnate the pedagogical speech, transmuting the artistic vision in regards to the communication that I now see as art (and here I mean especially literature) even when (or rather, just) when it is about scientific domains catalogued as hardcore. In this respect, we can understand communication as being the middle ground of interaction of more ties- ethical binder, psychological one, humanistic and of personal development, stimulated by the catalyst of the equation of knowledge. I find that it is in this way that we can conceive as natural as possible the space of perception of transdisciplinary reality.

[2] It appears that the simplest way of advancing in a determined way concerning some ideas and concepts, remains creativity. This is how I wish to encourage you to try out new ways of expression, either through writing, sculpting or other forms of artistic and artisanal. Cookery or gardening are highly recommended and not only for the young ladies, of course.

[3] Being a partisan of active pedagogy, I ask the following question: would you agree to give a few answers in regards to this lecture? If you find relatively entertaining that you can contribute in such ways to the symbolical interaction of the construction of word, of the image beyond the word and the space that ever so silently exists, by just stimulating your knowledge that we can gain. I am looking forward to your comments. My e-mail address is:

[4] Be stimulated by the experience of just discussing with as many people, no matter their social status or cultural one. You might find the effect surprising, because beyond the so called daily life and everyday distortion through mass-media or television, or just as a consequence of the rollover of values, people still keep something noble, above the culture as an elitist sense, or civilisation as a technical sense.

[5] By sensitive perception we understand the capacity to transport ourselves in a situation that we don’t necessarily know, but in which we let ourselves get carried away freely without manifesting any mental resistance. Empathy is a state required in order to be able to enter certain shadow zones, to live the attempts and experiences of the other without being forced to retort to constraints of a moral nature: is it good or not what he did or what has happened to him.

[6] You can find out more about this poet within the enticingly interesting conferences (especially since some are translated in Romanian) from the site TED: