The Aesthetic Dimension of Visual Culture
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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
longer in the sense of ‘highest’ but in the sense of ‘underlying’” (Rorty 1980, 132) applies to any account in which philosophy provides the conceptual underpinnings for empirical and historical research. Much of Rorty’s work has been devoted to releasing the grip of this picture on our thinking and to analysing the seemingly intractable problems to which it gives rise. I will now consider Wiesing’s conception of a universal science of images more closely and examine whether it leads to
relationship with aesthetics. I I should start, though, by explaining what I mean by the “sociological perspective” in the fields of art and aesthetics. It is an approach which takes seriously the symbolic and representational aspects of the cultural texts, while never losing sight of their production, and reception, in the context of social relations, institutions, and processes. Ideally, too, the sociological perspective is an historical one, not just in the sense that the object of study
promises a more “authentic” knowledge of them. The problem is not that the other is hidden from me (the body as an obstacle), but just the opposite: the other is totally exposed, transparent to meʊby virtue of his 140 Cavell on Film and Scepticism bodyʊas I am to him. Shame and embarrassment are, for Cavell, ontological facts rather than feelings associated with uncomfortable or traumatic experiences one has repressed. Reading other minds through the unconscious or automatic (hysterical)
referring to the nature of the photographic/ film medium as such (“good”)ʊphotographs are not hand-made but manufactured automaticallyʊand, on the other hand, “automatism” referring to tradition or convention (“bad”). Cavell’s conflation of several mutually contradictory meanings of “automatism” demonstrates that even from the perspective of the American line of inheritance in his philosophy scepticism remains an imaginary problem. In the final analysis, Cavell’s redemption of cinema from a cause
truth. I have thus tried to show that Patoþka’s explanation of the essence of an artwork is surprisingly akin to Nancy’s concept of an artwork. It is also reasonable to conclude that Patoþka supposes that the “world-earth” is opened in a work of art. 166 A Change in Essence? References Danto, Arthur C. 1998. After the End of Art. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Gehlen, Arnold. 1965. Zeit-Bilder zur Soziologie und Ästhetik der modernen Malerei. Frankfurt am Main and Bonn: Athenäum.