Alberto Argenton (2012), The hand, touch and vision, in A. Pluchinotta (ed.), Just the hand in modern and contemporary plastic art, Exhibition catalogue, Padova, Piano Nobile – Caffè Pedrocchi, 22 September – 14 October 2012, Bortolazzi-Stei, San Giovanni Lupatoto (VR), 44-50.
The hand, together with the arm of which it is the extremity, is our principal executive organ. It is what characterizes us as homo faber and as the species homo sapiens sapiens, for it is with the hand that we have been and are able not only to modify, on the whole to our advantage, the environment in which we live, but also to create, construct, make a myriad of artifacts that constitute our cultural material. The hand seems to be one of the primary organs through which the body – and the mind – interact cognitively with the surrounding world and help shape and develop our knowledge of the world.
As psychologist interested in the perceptual aspects of the artistic phenomenon, it is from this latter perspective that the “hand” in particular engages my attention, all the more so if it is a question of sculpture. It becomes a sort of metarepresentation of what in the last few centuries has been a dilemma of a philosophical and aesthetic nature. From the late nineteenth century it has also been subjected to scrutiny by psychology and, more recently, by the neurosciences. the question, in other words, is whether in order to have a full aesthetic understanding of the plastic work it is opportune or even indispensable that the enjoyment of the piece itself be based, also or in any case, on tactile perceptive activity. More simply stated, can what we traditionally define as sculpture be fully appreciated through sight alone, or should it be felt with the hands and therefore with the body.