Robert Pepperell

Paper: Art, Visual Perception, and Ontology

I hope to show that ideas from art, science, and philosophy can be constructively combined to help further our understanding of the relationship between the mind and the world and the nature of the objects and events we perceive.

Born in London in 1963, Robert Pepperell studied at the Slade School of Art, leaving in 1988. Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s he exhibited numerous innovative electronic works, including at Ars Electronica, the Barbican Gallery, Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, the ICA, and the Millennium Dome. He has also published several influential books, including The Posthuman Condition (1995 and 2003) and The Postdigital Membrane (with Michael Punt, 2000), as well as many articles, reviews and papers. He is currently Professor of Fine Art at Cardiff School of Art & Design.

Central to his work is an investigation of the nature of perceptual consciousness, carried out through both philosophical inquiry and the practice of painting and drawing — topics on which he lectures internationally.

Pepperell’s paintings and drawings are the result of intensive experimentation in materials and methods designed to evoke a very specific, though elusive, state of mind. The works induce a disrupted perceptual condition in which what we see cannot be matched with what we know. Instead of a recognisable depiction the viewer is presented with — what the art historian Dario Gamboni has called — a ‘potential image’, that is, a complex multiplicity of possible images, none of which ever finally resolves.