Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

December 28, 2019
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Experts Rank the Top 5 in This Decade’s Art

This year marks the end of the second decade of the 2000s. In honor of this, we thought we’d take a look back at our decade with an end-of-year series. The internet loves lists, especially year-end ones, and we’ll feed that love a little bit this December. We’ll be hosting seven lists of expert Decade-Best picks. We’ve done movies, games, writing, TV, and music, and you can look forward to one more surprise list at the end. Our experts include philosophers and other academics whose work concerns these topics, and people working in the relevant media. Up today: art! Okay so obviously movies and music are art, but what we mean by “art” today is arty art, that special kind of artworld art that’s in galleries and art fairs and museums, and attended to by art magazines and news outlets. We’re looking at photography, painting, video art, performance art, and more. … Continue reading

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

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

February 21, 2017
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Can #selfies be art? Saatchi says Yes

I’m going to go ahead and say Saatchi isn’t really that cutting edge on this one. People have been doing self-portraits for a long-ass time. Maybe those don’t count as “selfies” though? In any event, the famous Saatchi Gallery will host a show this spring called “From Selfie to Self-Expression”. This is funded together with the enormous Chinese telecom company Huawei. (Hm, I wonder why they’d be interested in selfies.) Maybe most exciting is for those artistic sorts who read the blog: You can enter your own selfie for a chance to be shown at Saatchi! They’re currently holding a selfie competition (entry rules here), open until March 12, 2017. You have to submit images via their website interface. For whatever reason, you can’t just post an Instagram with the #SaatchiSelfie hashtag and be entered. Although they do want you to use that hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, etc. Or you can just scope out … Continue reading

December 15, 2016
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Philosopher-Artist Interview: Scott Walden

Philosopher and Photographer Scott Walden interviewed by Alex King Scott Walden’s research focuses on the intersection between the philosophies of art, mind and language, with an emphasis on photography. These philosophical interests inform his photographic practice, which has been recognized by multiple grants and the 2007 Duke and Duchess of York Prize in Photography from the Canada Council for the Arts. As Associate Professor at Nassau Community College he is a 2016 recipient of the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities. Walden divides his time between New York and Newfoundland.

October 16, 2016
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Whispers of Power #1 Winner

Aaaaand – we have a winner! Congratulations Jonathan! (Email me with your contact details for your prize!) “Moral people are the most revengeful of mankind: they employ their morality as the best and most subtle weapon of vengeance.” ―Lev Shestov, “All Things are Possible” (1905) House of Cards, Season 2, episode 13, 58:08. Title: Knock on Wood Description: The opening image for our series depicts a frame from the climactic final scene of Season Two. Now, Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is President. Here he stands in the place of power, behind the presidential desk that he has envied and toward which he’s plotted and schemed for so long. He performs his trademark double-knock on the table, and the screen goes black. Next piece up tomorrow! Keep tabs on the project and contest at the project website here, or review the details of it at the previous post here.

October 11, 2016
by rebeccavictoriamillsop
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Really, Seriously the Artworld — Frieze London

One of the most artworld-of-artworld events took place last week in London: Frieze. Everyone and anyone wanting to be in-the-know is probably already paying attention. But in case you’re not… Why is Frieze such a big deal? Well, all eyes are on the works of art that sell and flop at this event because all of the most important galleries flaunt and sell the work of the artists that they represent–emerging, successful, and deceased alike. The event is described on their website: Taking place a week earlier this year, Frieze London brings together over 160 of the world’s leading galleries from New York to Berlin and Shanghai to São Paulo, to showcase works by newly discovered artists alongside some of the most respected names in contemporary art. Explore our curated sections – Focus, the definitive destination to discover young talents; Live, creating moments of immersion and interaction with participatory performance works; and new … Continue reading