Constructing the Sacred: Visibility and Ritual Landscape at the Egyptian Necropolis of Saqqara

Introduction: Note 35

The term ‘visibility’ is used in this work to refer to the human process of seeing and making cognitive sense of that which was seen. ‘Visuality’, a term popularized in the fields of visual culture and cultural studies, has been argued to refer to the cultural aspects of seeing, in contrast to the scientific processes of vision; see Hal Foster, Vision and Visuality, Discussions in Contemporary Culture 2 (New York: New Press, 1999), ix and Robert Nelson, Visuality before and beyond the Renaissance: Seeing as Others Saw, Cambridge Studies in New Art History and Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 2. Nevertheless, scholars have recognized that this Cartesian separation between mind and body is problematic, and I argue that it reinforces the same binary concepts of landscape critiqued by phenomenology, that the landscape is something separate from and outside its perception by human actors. I find the distinction between visibility and visuality unhelpful for this project, because what is visible to a human is always cultural; for something to be seen, it must be processed and made sense of by the mind. I therefore use the terms ‘visibility’ and ‘visual culture’ in this work. I include all the cultural aspects of the visual within these terms: form, shape, color, contrast, texture, reflection, etc. The binary output of visibility analysis in a GIS system (discussed below) is a highly inadequate means of expressing visibility and will carefully referred to in this work to differentiate discussions of general visibility from those dealing with GIS visibility analysis.

This page is referenced by: