AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone


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ASA FUNDS CONFERENCE ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF PORTRAITS

“Portrait of the Artist” by Gilbert Stuart (American, North Kingston, Rhode Island 1755–1828 Boston, Massachusetts) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

The American Society for Aesthetics Board of Trustees has approved a grant of $3,990 for a conference on “The Philosophy of Portraits” at the University of Maryland, April 7-8, 2018.

The conference has been organized by Hans Maes, Senior Lecturer in History and Philosophy of Art and Director of the Aesthetics Research Centre at the University of Kent, and Jerrold Levinson, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland. Confirmed keynote speakers include A.W. Eaton, Cynthia Freeland, and Jenefer Robinson.

A call for additional papers for the conference will be announced shortly. ASA is funding two travel grants for ASA student members of $500 each for papers selected for the program.

The conference registration fee of $35 will be waived for all ASA members attending the conference.


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QUESTIONING AESTHETICS SYMPOSIUM: BLACK AESTHETICS

The American Society for Aesthetics is pleased to provide $7500 in partial support of the Questioning Aesthetics Symposium: Black Aesthetics, to be held at Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, March 31-April 1, 2017.

“Aesthetic Arrangement” by hmomoy is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Funding is also being provided by Hampshire College, the Transdisciplinary Aesthetics Foundation, Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and the Five-College Lecture Fund.

The conference is co-organized by Monique Roelofs, Professor of Philosophy at Hampshire College, and Michael Kelly, Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and the Founder and President of the Transdisciplinary Aesthetics Foundation.

The symposium will be free and open to the public.

NEW (2/27/2017): Symposium Program

Web sites for the Symposium:

Poster: http://aesthetics-online.org/resource/resmgr/conferences/QAS-BlackAesthetics-Poster.pdf

Four grants of $500 each, made possible by an ASA Major Projects Initiative Grant, have been awarded to ASA student  members to attend the Symposium:

  • James Cobb, English and Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Miguel Gualdrón, Philosophy, DePaul University
  • Darla Migan, Philosophy, Vanderbilt University
  • Anahit Poturyan, Aesthetics and Politics, California Institute of the Arts

The symposium comprises five panels with 16 speakers, followed by a roundtable for all attendees. Confirmed speakers are: GerShun Avilez, Caitlin Cherry, Anthony Cokes, Jeremy M. Glick, Deborah Goffe, James Haile III, Phillip Brian Harper, Daphne Lamothe, Meleko Mokgosi, Amy Abugo Ongiri, Mickaella Perina, Kevin Quashie, Cherise Smith, Paul C. Taylor, Simone White, and Mabel O. Wilson.

Related events on Thursday, March 30, include a workshop by Mabel O. Wilson from 2:00-4:00 pm, and a lecture by Fred Moten at 5:00 pm, both at Hampshire College. Moten will also be doing a poetry reading on that same day at 8:00 pm at UMass/Amherst.


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ETHICS AND AESTHETICS OF STAND-UP COMEDY CONFERENCE

 

WHEN: 4/5/17-4/8/17

WHERE: Bucknell University

CONTACT: Sheila Lintott (sheila.lintott@bucknell.edu)

The American Society for Aesthetics has awarded $7,000 in partial support for the Conference on the Ethics and Aesthetics of Stand-Up Comedy at Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, April 5-8, 2017. The conference was organized by Sheila Lintott, Associate Professor, and Jason Leddington, Associate Professor, both of the Department of Philosophy.

NEW! Complete schedule for the Conference

NEW! Registration form for the Conference

The interdisciplinary conference will explore the intersections of stand-up comedy with other art forms and its potential for dialogue with social and political critiques. In addition to academic papers and presentations, the conference will include a performance workshop, an “open-mic” night, roundtable discussions with comedians, and stand-up comedy performances.

The Conference Organizing Committee includes faculty from English, Interdisciplinary Arts, and Women’s and Gender Studies, representing several colleges in the region.

For more information, click http://www.bucknell.edu/BUStandUpComCon


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GUEST POST: MARY-BETH WILLARD ON “FEARLESS GIRL” STATUE

Mary-Beth Willard is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Weber State University. She works in metaphysics, aesthetics, and early modern philosophy, and has particular interests in street art.

On a cold December night in 1989, artist Arturo di Modica installed Charging Bull, a three-and-a-half ton bronze bull, in New York’s Financial District. Di Modica had no official permission to install the statue, which he said symbolized the “strength and power of the American people” following the disastrous 1987 stock market crash.

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These days Charging Bull is a well-beloved tourist attraction, so you probably don’t remember, if you ever knew, that the immediate reaction to this guerilla Christmas gift was mixed. Crowds loved it, but the police were called by the securities exchanges, who then hired a contractor to remove the bull. Five days later, the city announced that it would have a temporary home two-and-a-half blocks south on Bowling Green, where it stands today.

Charging Bull is a work of public art, so while the artist may have intended it as a testament to the strength of the American people, its meaning is created in part by its interaction with the surrounding public space, and it has become identified with New York and the very securities exchanges that called for its removal in 1989. It is an icon of capitalism, as recognizable as the Statue of Liberty. Tourists travel to see it and pose with it. Rubbing various parts of the statue are thought to bring good luck; this tourist is not an anomaly.

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The bull’s identification with capitalism and Wall Street is so complete that during the Occupy Wall Street protests, the city erected barricades around it, fearing that it would be damaged by anti-capitalist protestors. It still has only a temporary permit, but the bull isn’t going anywhere.

And as of last week, the bull has a tiny adversary:

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Fearless Girl, by artist Kristen Visbal, faces down the bull, her dress and hair windswept as if by the breath of the beast, her chin raised in defiance. Fearless Girl is already a sensation, taken a symbol of the strength of women, and clearly opposed to the capitalistic forces the bull symbolizes. She gets humped by a (presumed) finance bro, who is met with viral outrage. Here she wears a pink knitted pussyhat, a symbol of the recent Women’s March; the fearless girl is being claimed by the left. She resists. She surely persists.

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But wait. The plaque at her feet reads “Know the power of women in leadership.  She makes a difference.” Launched ahead of International Women’s Day, it’s a well-timed piece of corporate art, sponsored by State Street Global Advisors, an investment group promoting the leadership of women in finanical institutions. They have a permit for one week, already extended to thirty days.

The girl is an ad. You might as well be moved by a commercial for Folgers.

If you’re like many people who initially saw the statue, you might feel as if your reaction is cheapened by the knowledge that it’s corporate art. You were played by a latter-day Don Draper. For how can the statue embody the nebulous anti-Wall Street spirit of the times if it’s been planted there by the very corporate and financial interests she appears to be fighting?

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Yet perhaps that’s too quick. Her story isn’t finished. Suppose the installation is removed after a week, purchased by a collector, and placed in a museum. You’ll read about her creation on the small placard in the cool white gallery. Fearless Girl (2017) is a curiosity, a brief triumph of exceedingly clever marketing in an Instagrammed age where the best publicity is viral astroturf.

But for now, she remains public art, and the street is her gallery. The passersby are the docents and patrons, and they will decide what she ultimately means. Suppose she stands in the park for years, so that her placement in the park was a corporate stunt fades from memory. We don’t remember that Wall Street hated the bull at first, that they towed it away. It’s hard to remember when it wasn’t there.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors snap photos of their daughters next to her, arms akimbo; they give her hats and scarves; they take selfies; they link their arms with hers. They face down the bull with her. Tourists ruffle her hair for good luck and her crown shines gold.

She’s always been there in New York, hasn’t she?


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JERRY SALTZ: BAD ART CANNOT BECOME GOOD IN NEW CONTEXTS

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photo of Longo’s sculpture on Whitney’s Tumblr account

Another entry in philosophy-meets-the-artworld:
Famous art critic Jerry Saltz weighs in on Vulture about Robert Longo’s All You Zombies: Truth Before God, which was recently installed at the Whitney.

Saltz writes of ‘badness’ as a “metaphysical constant”:

Can older bad art be made good by changing political times? The short answer, I think, is “No.” Really bad art may be a metaphysical constant, and in the case of rediscovered, long overlooked masterpieces I tend to believe the work was always good and we just weren’t capable of seeing it yet.

But says that, really, it might not be that important:

But when thinking about how times change works of art, we probably need to get away from using words like good and bad. Let’s focus instead on values that make art useful: surprise, energy, redefinitions of skill, a willingness to fail flamboyantly, originality in pursuit of different ideas of beauty, ugliness, urgency, the shedding of biography, or 1,000 other things. Look through these lenses and older art will often look very different in newer times. Any image of black face or lynching reverberates horribly today, as it should.

So what exactly does Saltz think of Longo’s sculpture? Check out the full article at Vulture.


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WHISPERS OF POWER #15 WINNER

Congratulations this week to Jennifer for her Rainer Maria Rilke quote!

“Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.”
[German: ” Vielleicht ist alles Schreckliche im tiefsten Grunde das Hilflose, das von uns Hilfe will.”]
– Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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House of Cards, Season 4, Episode 13, 55:33

Title: Terror

Description: “We do not fear terror. We are the terror.” The house of Claire and Frank Underwood appears to collapse, and then they utter these words. This climactic scene that ends the show’s fourth season, and we are left afraid and uncertain. A timely message given that, in today’s political climate, we are also left wondering whether there is anything past fear and uncertainty.

Thanks again to all who contributed to make this a great series! We’ve had a lot of fun putting it out, and it’s been interesting to think through during this especially tumultuous political time. We will have a concluding post recapping our thoughts on the series, so stay tuned. You’re not quite rid of us yet. 😉

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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JAAC x AFB DISCUSSIONS #3: TAVINOR ON VIDEO GAMES

Welcome to the third AFB x JAAC Discussion!

Today, we will be looking at “What’s My Motivation? Video Games and Interpretive Performance” by Grant Tavinor, available in JAAC’s Winter 2017 volume, 75 (1), online here. Grant is Senior Lecturer of Philosophy at Lincoln University, NZ and author of the book The Art of Videogames.

And big thanks to C. Thi Nguyen (Utah Valley University) for providing the critical précis. Grant’s response follows that, and they will both be available to discuss your questions and thoughts in the comments! Check it all out below the fold.

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*THIS THURSDAY* JAAC x AFB DISCUSSION: TAVINOR ON VIDEO GAMES

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Just another reminder that the next JAAC x AFB Discussion will be appearing this Thursday, March 2.

We will be looking at “What’s My Motivation? Video Games and Interpretive Performance” (abstract below the fold) by Grant Tavinor, available in JAAC’s Winter 2017 volume, 75 (1), online here. Grant is Senior Lecturer of Philosophy at Lincoln University, NZ and author of the book The Art of Videogames.

And big thanks to C. Thi Nguyen (Assistant Professor, Utah Valley University) for providing the critical précis. Grant will provide a response, and they will both be available to discuss your questions and thoughts in the comments.

Mark it in your calendars, and look forward to seeing you then!
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CALL FOR COMMENTS – NEGATIVE EMOTIONS IN ART RECEPTION

The journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences is looking for commentary on an article that they have accepted: “The DISTANCE-EMBRACING Model of the Enjoyment of Negative Emotions in Art Reception”.
Note that, as they say:
5. BUT … it’s not all about articles previously published, or position in the field. It’s not necessary to have published in the area, and it’s not necessary to have a current academic appointment.We make efforts to include proposals coming both from established figures and total newcomers. An engaging idea elicited by the article, an illuminating application of the target article concept to an allied field, or a truly clever riposte is often all that’s needed.”
Title: The DISTANCE-EMBRACING Model of the Enjoyment of Negative Emotions in Art Reception

Authors: Winfried Menninghaus, Valentin Wagner, Julian Hanich, Eugen Wassiliwizky, Thomas Jacobsen, and Stefan Koelsch

Deadline for Commentary Proposals: Thursday, March 16, 2017

About Commentary Proposals: When a target article or recent book has been accepted for BBS commentary, the editorial office sends out the call for commentary proposals to thousands of people. Commentary proposals help the BBS editors craft a well-balanced commentary invitation list.

Please keep in mind that we are not asking you to submit a commentary — but rather, a short proposal in order to be considered as an invited author after the proposal deadline.

If this target article interests you as a possible subject for commentary, please download the full pre-print to see if you would like to propose a commentary.

Abstract:

Why are negative emotions so central in art reception far beyond tragedy? Revisiting classical aesthetics in light of recent psychological research, we present a novel model to explain this much-discussed (apparent) paradox. We argue that negative emotions are an important resource for the arts in general rather than a special license for exceptional art forms only. The underlying rationale is that negative emotions have been shown to be particularly powerful in securing attention, intense emotional involvement, and high memorability—and hence precisely in what artworks strive for. Two groups of processing mechanisms are identified that conjointly adopt the particular powers of negative emotions for art’s purposes. The first group consists of psychological distancing mechanisms that are activated along with the cognitive schemata of art, representation, and fiction. These schemata imply personal safety and control over continuing or discontinuing exposure to artworks, thereby preventing negative emotions from becoming outright incompatible with expectations of enjoyment. This distancing sets the stage for a second group of processing components that allow art recipients to positively embrace the experiencing of negative emotions, thereby rendering art reception more intense, more interesting, more emotionally moving, more profound, and occasionally even more beautiful. These components include compositional interplays of positive and negative emotions, the effects of aesthetic virtues of using the media of (re)presentation (musical sound, words/language, color, shapes) on emotion perception, and meaning-making efforts. Moreover, our DISTANCING–EMBRACING model proposes that concomitant mixed emotions often help to integrate negative emotions into altogether pleasurable trajectories.

Interested? Full information about how to submit a proposal here.


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UPCOMING JAAC x AFB DISCUSSION: TAVINOR ON VIDEO GAMES

minecraft

The third JAAC x AFB Discussion will be appearing next Thursday, March 2.

We will be looking at “What’s My Motivation? Video Games and Interpretive Performance” (abstract below the fold) by Grant Tavinor, available in JAAC’s Winter 2017 volume, 75 (1), online here. Grant is Senior Lecturer of Philosophy at Lincoln University, NZ and author of the book The Art of Videogames.

And big thanks to C. Thi Nguyen (Assistant Professor, Utah Valley University) for providing the critical précis. Grant will provide a response, and they will both be available to discuss your questions and thoughts in the comments.

Mark it in your calendars, and look forward to seeing you then!
Continue reading