[-empyre-] ah, aesthetics

Nell Tenhaaf tenhaaf at yorku.ca
Thu Sep 12 02:30:00 EST 2013

Hello everyone,

Oddly, aesthetics has become one of my favourite topics even though I come out of the 70s "postmodern" and otherwise busted-open art moment. when it was the last thing anyone wanted to invoke. My feeling is that we will get hamstrung in seeking an aesthetic for bioart (or a-life art, or any of the marvellous outlier practices of the past decades) if we drop back to, say Kant - as comforting as that might sound. This came up in the context of a TOCHI (computer-human interaction) special issue I was part of a few years ago, on "aesthetics of interaction", which had a lot of good thinking about Dewey's pragmatist aesthetics that keeps real world deployment in view, and in general focused on ways of designing experience or interfaces to engage multiple kinds of embodiments and types of events. One commentator lamented than in the whole issue, the heavyweights of aesthetic philosophy were nearly invisible. It was a bit of a shock - although if the concern is to legitimate some kind of practice or set of practices, then yes, not such a surprising comment. Can't we legitimate at this point if we need to, via practices that we feel have a kinship in their kind of renegade approach to asking questions? - this reminds me of Rob Mitchell's comments about performance art as a key precursor to bioart, linking it with human/non-human population interactions - and it also links up to often physical risk and lots of good subject/object permeability. 

all best,

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