Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

June 22, 2018
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Pyke’s Portraits of Philosophers

What follows is a guest post by Michael Newall (University of Kent). This post is a partial continuation of the earlier post about Hans Maes’ recent book, Conversations on Art and Aesthetics. Hans Maes’ excellent book, Conversations on Art and Aesthetics (Oxford UP, 2017), features a collection of ten photographic portraits of philosophers of art by Steve Pyke. (These can also be viewed on the website for the book, where it has to be said they appear to better effect. The book also features one portrait by philosopher and artist Claire Anscomb, which appears on the website too.) Pyke, of course, is known within philosophy as a photographer of many of its leading lights. Nobody has documented philosophers in this way before, and few professions have the benefit of such a constant and accomplished portraitist.

April 18, 2018
by Aesthetics for Birds
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#nofilter: Philosophical Reflections on Photography in the Age Of Instagram

What follows is a guest post by Daniel Star (Boston University). All photographs are the author’s own. (Readers are encouraged to follow the links in captions for full-size, full-resolution images.) We’ve all seen it. Maybe we’ve done it. Maybe we’ve “liked” it. Someone takes a snapshot of a wonderful sunset with a smartphone and posts it on a social media site with the “#nofilter” hashtag. This is one of the most popular hashtags on Instagram, and it is now also used widely on Facebook and Twitter. The sunset was no doubt beautiful (sunsets tend to be beautiful), but it’s unlikely that the photograph itself was of a high quality – smartphone shots rarely are, and even a setting sun will tend to blow out highlights (bright regions in images, see below), leaving empty space in part of the photo. Perhaps this doesn’t matter, because the point of such a social … Continue reading

March 27, 2018
by Roy T Cook
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More than Skin Deep with Frank Boardman

Frank Boardman interviewed by Roy Cook for AFB Frank Boardman is is a visiting assistant professor at Worcester State University. Most of his work has been in philosophy, art and rhetoric. He has a completely unwarranted belief that he could also write about parenting, technology or basketball.

January 15, 2018
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Color Vision and Art

What are colors, really? If we see colors differently than bees do, does that mean that colors aren’t real? Should we take into account the fact that some painters are color blind? Issues like this have occupied painters since at least the 20th century. Josef Albers wrote extensively about color theory and his paintings reflect that. Neil Harbisson, a British artist with a severe form of color blindness (achromatopsia, i.e., grayscale vision), thinks that being colorblind has made his art better, and now has implants that (debatably) allow him to hear color. And other stories like this abound. It’s even rumored that Van Gogh was color blind, though the Van Gogh museum disputes that. A recent book, A Naive Realist Theory of Colour by Keith Allen, defends the existence of colors despite all of the worries we might have. In a blog post over at Oxford University Press, Allen writes: One of … Continue reading

October 25, 2017
by Alex King
4 Comments

“To Open My Legs Is to Open My Mouth”: Sexuality and Art

In September this year, French-Luxembourgian performance artist Deborah De Robertis exposed her vagina in front of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. A few days ago, she was acquitted of charges of sexual exhibitionism by Paris’s High Court. Why? Because (a) her intent was not sexual in nature, and (b) the “material element of the crime” was missing (= you couldn’t *see* her genitalia because pubic hair obscured it). (Yes, you may giggle now.)

September 12, 2017
by Alex King
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We All Have Our Reasons

Comic artist Zach Weinersmith of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal talks about art: And the aftercomic, for those of you interested in questions about representation and depiction: And the referenced work, for your viewing pleasure, which has hilariously become Cesena’s profile pic on his Wikipedia page: According to Wikipedia: “It was widely said that when Cesena complained to the Pope, the pontiff joked that his jurisdiction did not extend to hell and the portrait would have to remain.”

April 4, 2017
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Artistic Representations of Philosophical Thought

There’s a post over at the general interest philosophy blog Daily Nous that might be of interest to our readers. Susanna Berger, assistant professor of art history at the University of Southern California, has posted an excerpt adapted from her book, The Art of Philosophy: Visual Thinking in Europe from the Late Renaissance to the Early Enlightenment (Princeton University Press, 2017). From Berger: I show how their inventive iconography inspired new visualizations of thought in a range of drawn and printed sources, including student lecture notebooks, printed books, and alba amicorum (friendship albums). The book culminates with a new study of the celebrated frontispiece to Hobbes’s Leviathan. I argue that previous accounts of the print have failed to capture the full complexity of this etching and offer a new, if complex, account of this famous image—one which emphasizes the process of the state’s generation. Artists and philosophers invested significant amounts of … Continue reading

March 29, 2017
by Rebecca Millsop
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ASA Funds Conference on the Philosophy of Portraits

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.