AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 - 1669 ), Student at a Table by Candlelight, c. 1642, etching, Rosenwald Collection


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CFP: PHILOSOPHY OF ART GRAD CONFERENCE

Philosophy of Art and Aesthetics

10th Annual Graduate Philosophy Conference

University at Albany, State University of New York

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

Keynote speaker: Dr. Christy Mag Uidhir, University of Houston

Deadline for submissions: Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 - 1669 ), Student at a Table by Candlelight, c. 1642, etching, Rosenwald Collection

Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 – 1669 ), Student at a Table by Candlelight, c. 1642, etching, Rosenwald Collection

We invite graduate students to submit papers in any area of Philosophy of Art and/or Aesthetics.

Papers should be suitable for a 25 to 30-minute presentation (approximately 3,000-4,000 words). All submissions should be prepared for blind review and should include a separate document containing the following information: your name, paper title, an abstract of approximately 100 to 250 words, institutional affiliation, e-mail address, phone number, and where you saw this call for papers. Please submit papers via e-mail with ‘2017 Conference Submission’ in the subject line.

Acceptable formats are MS Word documents, RTF files, or PDF files. Please send submissions to uapa.submission<at>gmail.com

Please note: Housing can be provided for graduate student speakers. In addition, conference registration and all meals on the day of the conference are free for all conference attendees.

Submission deadline: Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

For more information about the conference or about the submission requirements, please contact Sydney Faught at sfaught<at>albany.edu

Paul Gauguin (French, 1848 - 1903 ), Self-Portrait, 1889, oil on wood, Chester Dale Collection


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CFP: THEMES IN TRANSFORMATIVE EXPERIENCE

Preconference — Themes in Transformative Experience: Metaphysics, Aesthetics, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Mind

2017 Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association

Seattle, WA | April 11th, 2017 | The Seattle Westin

Transformative experience connects to a wide range of philosophical topics. An experience can be epistemically transformative by teaching you something distinctive in virtue of having the experience, and thereby enriching your ability to imagine, represent, and predict.  An experience can be personally transformative by transforming some of your core values or preferences. Of special interest are cases in which one kind of transformation leads to the other, or in which an experience is both epistemically and personally transformative; examples of such cases may include becoming a parent, changing a sense modality, fighting in a war, or undergoing a religious conversion. Questions raised by transformative experience include: Do epistemically transformative experiences create new concepts or abilities in those that have the experiences? Are transformative experiences best understood by appeal to perspectival or indexical notions, or to the notion of the de se? Should they be taken to involve the destruction of the self, or of the replacement of one self with another? What is the perceptual content of a transformative experience? Can transformative experiences provide us with knowledge of ourselves? Do they lend support to probabilistic conceptions of knowledge? Do they reveal the need for empathy, not just for others who exist now, but for one’s own possible selves, especially possible future selves? Can one imagine the nature of a transformative experience? Can one learn everything about the nature of transformative experiences through testimony from those who have had them? Are transformative experiences valuable in themselves, or do they reveal a kind of value that is otherwise hidden? Do they show that the space of utilities associated with a decision problem may be gappy or otherwise not well-defined? Can artistic or other aesthetic experiences be transformative?

The workshop aims to explore the connections between transformative experience and topics in a range of areas in philosophy, with particular attention to themes in metaphysics, aesthetics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind.

Keynotes:

Shamik Dasgupta, ‘How to Be Authentic’

Trenton Merricks, ‘Identity, self, and transformation’

Sarah Moss, ‘Probabilistic knowledge and transformative experience’

Other speakers include:

Nomy Arpaly, Kati Balog, John Campbell, Josh Dever, Martin Glazier, Amy Kind, Jennifer Lackey, Enoch Lambert, Carla Merino-Rajme, Nick Riggle, Barbara Montero, Raul Saucedo, Meghan Sullivan, Evan Thompson

Online registration and program information will be available soon at www.apaonline.org

There are a small number of sessions available for additional papers, to be selected from submitted abstracts. Abstracts prepared for anonymous review should be submitted to transformativeexperience2017@gmail.com by December 20th, 2016. Abstracts should be no more than 750 words and should be suitable for a 25-minute presentation. Accepted contributors will be notified by January 6th, 2017.

Further inquiries may be addressed to Martin Glazier (glazier@unc.edu).

Pre-Conference Organizers:

  • A. Paul, UNC Chapel Hill
  • Martin Glazier, UNC Chapel Hill


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NEW BLOG: AD POPULUM

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Philosopher Nils-Hennes StearNils-Hennes Stear (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) has started Ad Populum, a blog for philosophers to “use the tools of our philosophical training to dissect issues of interest to popular culture writ large, and to demonstrate the usefulness of careful and critical thinking about matters big and small.”

The blog so far features Nils as well as guest posters on topics from Skittles and Syria to the media reception of sports protests. It looks very cool!

The most recent post, especially, might be of interest to AFB readers: “The Comedian as Philosopher, David Chappelle on the Election of Donald Trump” by Michael L. Thomas (Stanford).

Image of Jeff Koons’ Michael Jackson and Bubbles courtesy of Jules Antonio via Flickr


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WHISPERS OF POWER #9

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House of Cards, Season 3, episode 3

Title: Halo

Description: The US Presidency, depicted here in its symbolism and drama. After a frustrating negotiation with the Russian president, Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) takes a stand. In this image, we are invited to see Frank as a kind of savior. Or is it just the American people who are invited to do so, while we viewers see through the smoke and mirrors to his true character?

Readers, please help us by supplying a caption for this image! As a reminder, the winning caption will be hand-drawn into the blank space below the image. The reader who supplies the winning caption will receive a signed print and be named an official collaborator for this piece. Submit captions below in the comments!

Contest closes Saturday at noon (US, EST). Winner announced Sunday. Next piece up in one week! Keep tabs on the project and contest at the project website here, review the details of it at the previous post here, or see previous posts in this series here.

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3D PRINTED, AI-PRODUCED ORIGINAL “REMBRANDT”

A collaboration between ING bank, Microsoft, Delft University of Technology, and the Mauritshuis museum brings us the Next Rembrandt project.

They’ve created an original, Rembrandt-style “painting” created by analyzing existing Rembrandt paintings (colors, head direction, facial composition, etc.).

If this is a taste of what the robot apocalypse will look like, then I guess it seems sort of anticlimactic.

Anyway, if you were curious about how to make the MOST paradigmatic Rembrandt painting, you’d want the following characteristics:

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Okay, but so much you probably already knew, without any deep data algorithms. Just with your fleshy meat brain.

But could you do this part?

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They did micro-landscape analysis of the brushstrokes and mimicked that, too. Then used “paint-based UV ink” to create the final product with a 3D printer.

And how does it look?

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I mean, it looks like a Rembrandt to me. (Some people claim they can tell it’s not authentic. I’m skeptical.) This – like computer-generated poetry – raises a bunch of interesting philosophical questions.

  • Is it an artwork?
  • Is it a painting?
  • Is it an original painting?
  • Is there an author? Who is it?
  • Is there any creativity involved? Any expression?
  • Would it actually be distinguishable, even by experts, from a real Rembrandt? And does that matter?

But most importantly:

  • Will this creativity and computer learning lead to robots enslaving humanity?

“You could say that we use technology and data like Rembrandt used his paints and his brushes to create something new.” – Ron Augustus, Director of SMB Markets at Microsoft

I mean, like, you could… but should you?

If you’re curious, check out the video below to see an overview of the project. Much more at the project website.

(Via Core77. Thanks to Noah Greenstein for the pointer.)


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WHISPERS OF POWER #8 WINNER

Congratulations this week to Sharon for her Beach Boys quote! A humorous line that takes on a somewhat ominous tone in this context, thanks!

(Sharon: Email aestheticsforbirds@gmail.com with contact details for your prize.)

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House of Cards, Season 3, episode 3, 10:07

“Everybody’s gone surfin’…
Surfin’ U.S.A.”

– Beach Boys, Surfin USA

Title: Surfboard

Description: Newly minted president Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) faces international matters. This image depicts his literal standoff with the Russian president, Viktor Petrov. A surfboard stands erect between them, while a funny moment takes a dark turn. Does this symbol suggest – or poke fun at – the idea that politics is a man’s world?

Next piece up tomorrow! Keep tabs on the project and contest at the project website here, or review the project over at the previous post here.


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100 PHILOSOPHERS 100 ARTWORKS 100 WORDS #59

Philosopher: Robert Gooding-Williams, Columbia University

Artwork: The Garden, Louise Glück, 1976

 

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Words: The dramatic speaker, a tragic chorus of one, can barely bear to observe a naïve young couple, wanting in awareness of the difficulties that await them, wanting in perspective, and doomed to sadness —a sadness occasioned by departures and separations, even fleeting ones, “even here, even at the beginning of love;” a sadness we may feel free to disregard, falsely thinking that we can secure our relationships against it.  The poem, through its rhythm and tone, conveys the ineluctability of that sadness, thus exemplifying poetry’s power to affect and affectively to form our understanding of the faults that fall between us.

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ARTIST INTERVIEW: LAUREN KALMAN

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Artist Lauren Kalman interviewed by Alex King for AFB

Lauren Kalman is a visual artist based in Detroit and an assistant professor at Wayne State University. Her practice is invested in contemporary craft, video, photography and performance. Kalman’s work has been featured in exhibitions at the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Museum of Contemporary Craft, Cranbrook Art Museum, Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Mint Museum, and the World Art Museum in Beijing, among others. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, and the Detroit Institute of Art. She currently has a solo show at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, running through March 15, 2017, as part of their MAD POV series; as well as an installation at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, PA, running through February 12, 2017.

[Ed. warning: this interview contains some nudity, may be NSFW]

Aesthetics for Birds: By way of introducing yourself and your work to our audience, how would you describe the kind of art you make? And what do you see as the central themes in your work?

Lauren Kalman: I am often considered a craft artist with formative training in the fields of jewelry and metalsmithing. Over the years my work has transitioned from jewelry as the format of my work to adornment as the subject of my work. This has freed me to approach jewelry through a variety of methods ranging from traditionally fabricated metal objects to textiles, beading, ceramics, installation, 3D printing, and computer controlled objects.

My most recent work expands on my previous work, which focused on the creation of objects that are hybrids of grotesque or undesirable aspects of the body with objects we commonly associate with beauty, power, status, health or wealth. Through my work, I investigate how the pursuit of human beauty has left its mark on the body. Bodily ideals are often implemented through the use of objects and materials placed on the body. The act of covering and adding to the body transforms it from a natural state toward an icon of perfection, and my work explores jewelry/adornment as agents of this transformation.

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Device for Filling a Void (4), from Devices for Filling a Void series (2014)

AFB: Your work breaks traditional medium and genre boundaries. Do you break these for principled reasons, or do you just do the sort of art that you find appealing, and then let others sort it out?

LK: I am interested in disciplinary histories and play off of them in my work, however, at the end of the day I let the critics, curators, and art historians decide how to categorize what I make. This frees me to work across disciplines and media.

AFB: Many of your works involve sculptured pieces designed to be worn or attached to a body. As such, there is an element of performance, and photographs or videos that document the performances. You said in a previous interview that “at this point, the images are not documentation but an integral part of the work.” Could you say more about what you mean? What do you see as the difference between photographs (or videos) being mere documentation as opposed to part of the work?

LK: This may be more of an art specific distinction. Documentation usually refers to an image OF a work of art used to communicate that work through the medium of photography. I make photographs and video AS the work. Hopefully that distinction makes sense.

AFB: Yes, definitely. As you said, your works play with our standard notions of beauty and the grotesque. You do this in your choice of what to feature (e.g., nostrils, gums, dermatological conditions, amputations), and through your materials and textures (gold and pearl and gemstones, smooth or coarse). Do you intend your pieces to be on the whole beautiful or grotesque?

LK: Both. I am interested in the spaces in between.

AFB: Is your work an attempt to draw attention to standards of beauty in order to critique them or just in order to observe them? Do you want people coming away thinking, for example, that acne and blisters can be beautiful? Or that they could only be beautiful if they were made of gilded diamonds and rubies – because those things actually are beautiful? Or that, even then, these “blemishes” would retain some right to our disgust?

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Hard Wear (Canal Caps), from Hard Wear series (2006)

LK: I don’t think I want people to come away with a particular vantage point. In the work you are referring to I was largely interested in a subtle shift, change in medium to change the grotesque into something beautiful. Maybe it is a formal exercise, maybe also a meditation on the power of cultural norms and expectations as they relate to the body.

AFB: More recent work of yours, like “But if the Crime is Beautiful…”, explicitly questions our concepts of simplicity, minimalism, and ornament. I think earlier work of yours can be seen as exploring these issues, too. Is part of your point with this work that what modernists – and thus we now – understand as “simple” or “unadorned” is already embedded in a bunch of assumptions? If that’s right, what do you take those assumptions to be?

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Composition with Object and Ornament (6), from But if the Crime is Beautiful… series (2013-2016)

LK: I think in Western culture there has come to be a value in unadorned or simple. This value is rooted in historical associations between adornment and women or adornment and indigenous cultures or adornment and people of color, and also a ling between adornment and indulgence (as a bodily phenomena). Where simplicity is a project of the mind, and intellectual endeavor and a rejection of the corporeal. To me this rejection of the body (and its association with the feminine and people of color) is clearly problematic.

AFB: One of the many ways you engage with gender and sex in your work is by focusing on female bodies and female wearables. The wearables often look pretty painful – and I assume that’s no coincidence. Are you critiquing standards of beauty that lie behind sayings like “pretty hurts”, i.e., the idea that women should or must suffer for beauty? Or are you aiming for something else?

LK: I think it is critique, but I think the critique is broader than specific standards of beauty. I am interested in the construction of the mind/body dichotomy perpetuated in Western culture. We see this notion expressed in Baudelaire’s 1863 essay “In Praise of Cosmetics”, where he argues that morality is artificial, and to social values of mind over body, and the superiority of cultural fabrication over individual bodies. In my work I also think about how this is a gendered activity, reflecting historic notions that the mind and intellect are the realm of the (white) male and that corporeality and emotions are that of the female or other. I see the pain in my work as representative of this striving for artificial at the expense of the body.

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Strangers to the Garden, from But if the Crime is Beautiful… series (2013-2016)

AFB: Thanks! Last question: Please fill in the blanks as you see fit: “Aesthetics is for the artist as ________ is for the ______.”

LK: Honestly, I don’t have an answer for this question. Words are not my specialty!


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WHISPERS OF POWER #8

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House of Cards, Season 3, episode 3, 10:07

Title: Surfboard

Description: Newly minted president Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) faces international matters. This image depicts his literal standoff with the Russian president, Viktor Petrov. A surfboard stands erect between them, while a funny moment takes a dark turn. Does this symbol suggest – or poke fun at – the idea that politics is a man’s world?

Readers, please help us by supplying a caption for this image! As a reminder, the winning caption will be hand-drawn into the blank space below the image. The reader who supplies the winning caption will receive a signed print and be named an official collaborator for this piece. Submit captions below in the comments!

Contest closes Saturday at noon (US, EST). Winner announced Sunday. Next piece up in one week! Keep tabs on the project and contest at the project website here, review the details of it at the previous post here, or see previous posts in this series here.


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WHISPERS OF POWER #7 WINNER

Congratulations this week to Maxine for her original composition!

(Maxine: Email aestheticsforbirds@gmail.com with contact details for your prize.)

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House of Cards, Season 3, Episode 2, 36:48

“To be a leader
To be a liar
To be honest
One needs the courage to be
In the limelight”

Title: Conference

Description: After fighting his way to the presidency, Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) moves forward with his plans. Imagining a cooperative and supportive administration, he is surprised to find that they see him as a stepping stone, an intermediate solution until their next, real candidate can be elected and installed. How can he win them, and the American people, over?

Next piece up tomorrow! Keep tabs on the project and contest at the project website here, or review the project over at the previous post here.