The Aesthetic Dimension of Visual Culture

The Aesthetic Dimension of Visual Culture

Language: English

Pages: 197

ISBN: 1443824283

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

How can aesthetic enquiry contribute to the study of visual culture? There seems to be little doubt that aesthetic theory ought to be of interest to the study of visual culture. For one thing, aesthetic vocabulary has far from vanished from contemporary debates on the nature of our visual experiences and its various shapes, a fact especially pertinent where dissatisfaction with vulgar value relativism prevails. Besides, the very question ubiquitous in the debates on visual culture of what is natural and what is acquired in our visual experiences has been a topic in aesthetics at least since the Enlightenment. And last but not least, despite attempts to study visual culture without employing the concept of art, there is no prospect of this central subject of aesthetic theory ebbing away from visual studies. The essays compiled in this volume show a variety of points of intersection and involvement between aesthetics and visual studies; some consider the future of visual art, some the conditions and characteristics of contemporary visual aesthetic experience, while others take on the difficult question of the relation between visual representation and reality. What unites them is their authors willingness to think about contemporary visual culture in the conceptual frame of aesthetics. This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of philosophical aesthetics, art history, and cultural studies













works of art can lead outwards to the work’s functioning in a wider sphere. Too often, I fear, we simply avoid confronting the aesthetic, and seek to analyse works of art in terms of their socio-historical context or, indeed, in terms of whether the work can be explicated according to its conformity with a certain theory. This is partly because to discuss aesthetics in relation to particular works of art poses a formidable problem, which is evident if we consider some of the terms used to account

a process that has to start somewhere. Together with Zeki, whose study of the visual brain is an example of current thought on vision, we may say that at the beginning of perception there are a number of unsynchronized, parallel reactions of the visual system, which immediately analyze and re-organize, break and distort, if you like, every piece of information coming from the visual world (Zeki 1999). These processes take different paths and circuits in the brain and activate different regions;

measure activity in different regions of the brain, but they share the assumption that visual artworks are so effective because they speak to the basics of visual perception. In the recent words of one of Zeki’s followers, “the central tenet of neuroesthetic theory [is] that esthetic perception reflects fundamental functional properties of the nervous system” (Redies 2007, 1). IV Conclusion In this article I have considered three accounts of aesthetic experience based, similarly, on sense

sociological questions. As I have suggested, a good deal of recent work meets this challenge, including the work of some American scholars. But the very success of critical approaches to visual culture has produced a new problem. Again, I think the solution is grounded in the sociological imagination. I mean here what we might call the dilemma of aesthetics. The combined effect of critical readings of visual (and other) texts and the social-historical exploration of structures and processes of

and even welcomes contemporary art with sympathy or indeed keenness. Heidegger believes that contemporary art is unable to come up with the unconcealment of being (Heidegger 1977, 34–35). Contemporary art is unable to open a new historical world similar to the ancient, medieval, or modern worlds. Contemporary art is thus unable to give the essential directives for orientation and decision-making. By contrast, Patoþka stresses that contemporary art offers evidence of human freedom. It is even fair

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