A Workshop on General Semantics by Professors Gad Horowitz and Shannon Bell at Sir J. J. School of Art, Mumbai, Organized by Smt. CHM College Nodal Centre

18-19 November 2013


The workshop on general semantics was conducted at the studio, Sir J. J. School of Art, Mumbai on 18th and 19th Nov 2013. The event was organized in collaboration with Balvant Parekh Centre and a Nodal Centre operating at Smt Chandibai Himathmal Mansukhani College , Ulhasnagar . Two introductory books/notes were provided for the workshop by Balvant Parekh Center , in co-ordination with Mrs. Kavita Nimbalkar, Pidilite, Mumbai, which were distributed to the participants.

The program began on 18th November 2013 with introduction of dignitaries by Ms. Snehal Tambulwadikar followed by a key note by the Dean Prof. Vishwanath Sabale and felicitation of guests. Prof Deepa Mishra gave an introduction to General Semantics and how it has developed as a theory and application; also stating the relevance of the same to visual art students. The first session began with Prof. Gad Horowitz explaining the meaning of general semantics, giving examples. In the second session, Prof. Gad Horowitz and Prof. Shannon Bell used the paintings in the studio, many of them painted by the participants themselves to explain certain general semantics concepts which made the session more interesting and gripping. The day ended with an assignment given to the participants where they had to describe an object without labeling it. The next day began with the assignment sharing by the participants and continued with presentation, video and paper reading by Prof. Shannon Bell which was well received by the participants and students of visual arts. The day ended with a discussion session.

Most of the participants were students of visual arts and practicing artists from Mumbai. Some students from Smt. CHM College also attended.

Interaction with students

Snehal Tambulwadikar                                                         Sir. J. J. School of Art  

A Report from Another Perspective

Our Nodal Centre at Smt. CHM College , Ulhasnagar , Mumbai embarked upon its first significant initiative when it took the opportunity of the visit of Prof. Gad Horowitz and Prof. Shannon Bell to Mumbai and conducted a 2-day workshop at Sir J. J School of Art. The event was a collaborative effort between Sir J. J. School and the Nodal Centre and it was conducted at the Painting Studio of the School on 18 and 19 November 2013. The workshop was the first of its kind for these art students and the faculty, inducting them not only to the concepts of General Semantics, but also reinforcing the relevance of the discipline to the field of fine arts.

Dr. Deepa Mishra, Convener of the Nodal Centre introduced the concept of General Semantics and spoke on its relevance to the students of visual art and artists. The first session began with Prof. Gad Horowitz explaining the Korzybskian concept of “Structural Differential” and the process of abstraction. He illustrated the important philosophical distinction between ‘seeing’ and ‘seeing as’ and related the same to the core of General Semantics in a variety of ways. Through the mechanism of contemporary philosophical deliberations on sense perceptions and related acquisition of knowledge, he explained how General Semantics attempts to create a new and novel way of looking at the world. In the second session, Prof. Gad Horowitz and Prof. Shannon Bell made use of the paintings in the studio to explain the levels of ‘abstraction’ and how one can potentially get engaged in higher and higher levels of abstraction by making knowledge acquisition more objective and scientific.

On 19th November, 2013, Prof. Shannon Bell resorted to the novel concept of screening of the film of “Flaneuring Ancient Arcade Ruin” and explaining the concepts used in the film side by side through a presentation. Prof Bell reflected on Walter Benjamin’s idea of “telescoping the past through the present” in context of General Semantics. This packaging was well appreciated by the students of visual art leading to an intense discussion session.

It was a workshop well conceptualized by the Nodal Centre and Sir J. J School of Art. This has not only created an encouraging start to the activities of the Nodal Centre at Smt. CHM College , but has also opened up the relevance of General Semantics to more and more academic and creative disciplines.

Deepa Mishra Convener, Nodal Centre,

Smt. CHM College , Ulhasnagar , Mumbai.