Conferencing: Reframing Ekphrasis, London

by ninashiel

I presented my paper ‘The Senses and Sensuality of Ekphrasis from the Painting to the Pixel’ at the conference titled ‘Reframing Ekphrasis’ at King’s College, London, which took place 8-9 November. In the paper, I discussed how the purpose of ekphrasis, regardless of the source visual, is to re-create the visual in the mind’s eye of the reader/listener, which involves a certain degree of immersion. I noted that this process involves strongly emotionally charged transfer. Therefore, I presented affect and immersion as key elements of ekphrasis, both of which can be made much more effective by verbal appeal to senses additional to the visual alone. In the paper, I compared two poems: Moira Egan’s ‘Dear Mr Merrill’ and extracts from John Redmond’s ‘MUDe’, in order to consider whether the encounter with the visual has changed since the emergence of the digital. I suggested that in the former example, the frustration of the viewer/writer unable to engage senses other than the visual spurs the poetic inspiration. In the latter, the ability to engage too many senses in a virtual environment has led to the seeking of restrictions elsewhere and to the blurring of the borders between the virtual and real as a source of inspiration.