AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone


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100 PHILOSOPHERS 100 ARTWORKS 100 WORDS #67

Philosopher: C. Thi Nguyen, Utah Valley University

Artwork: Monument Against Fascism, Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz, 1986. As Neo-Fascism was on the rise in the city, the Municipal Council of Hamburg-Harburg commissioned this monument: a 12 meter tall steel column, clad in lead. The monument invited visitors to sign it by engraving, hammering, and pounding into its sides. The column was slowly lowered into the ground over eight years, until, in October 1993, it disappeared entirely. It gathered over 70,000 signatures. Now only the top surface of the column is visible, flush with the ground.

The column was accompanied by this text: “We invite the citizens of Harburg, and visitors to the town, to add their names here next to ours. In doing so we commit ourselves to remain vigilant. As more and more names cover this 12-metre tall lead column, it will gradually be lowered into the ground. One day it will have disappeared completely, and the site of the Harburg Monument against Fascism will be empty. In the end it is only we ourselves who can stand up against injustice.”

Esther Shalev-Gerz and Jochen Gerz, Monument Against Fascism, 1986

Monument against Fascism 1986-1993 text panelEsther Shalev-Gerz and Jochen Gerz, Monument Against Fascism, 1986 c

(photos courtesy of Esther Shalev-Gerz)

Words: What more is there to say? Every time I see these pictures and read that text, I almost cry. It is unbearably potent. Why is it so important that the monument disappear? Why is it so important that it start so bold and tall? The text says it is a call to action. The Gerzes said it was a counter-monument, against the fascistic tendencies inherent in all monuments. It refuses to honor. James Young says by vanishing, it remembers a vanished people. But there’s something more. To stand there, with that great column and all those signatures buried beneath you…

(More information and more.)


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ARTHUR DANTO ASA PRIZE – DEADLINE 5/31

The Arthur Danto/American Society for Aesthetics Prize will be awarded to a member of the APA and the ASA for the best paper in the field of aesthetics, broadly understood, in a refereed journal, or an original book chapter or original essay published in a collection with a multiplicity of contributors. This prize is in honor of the late Arthur Danto, a past president of the APA Eastern Division.

Arthur C. Danto, Head, 1957, woodcut,
15”x18.25”. Photo: Liz Murphy Thomas.

The winner receives a $1,000 prize. In addition, a symposium in honor of the recipient of the prize is held at the APA Eastern Division meeting, normally the next such meeting following the selection of the prizewinner.

The nomination deadline is May 31, 2017.

Nominees must be members of both the APA and the ASA in the year of the nomination. For the inaugural award, nominated papers must have been published in 2015 or 2016. Nominations must be from a person who is a member of both the APA and the ASA at the time of nomination. Self-nominations are not permitted. To submit a nomination, fill out the Danto/ASA Prize nomination form.

We look forward to receiving your nominations!

 


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THE PHILOSOPHY OF JAZZ

lewis-jazz-band

Norman Lewis, Jazz Band (1948)

What is the philosophy of jazz?

In a sort of order of strength of the foundational questions philosophers of jazz often research and pursue we have:

  • What is jazz? Can it be defined?  Does it have a musical essence? Are there necessary and sufficient conditions for a musical performance to be jazz? How does one determine if free jazz, or jazz-rock fusion is jazz?  Was the movement to free jazz inevitable?
  • Could Martians who know nothing about music on planet Earth play jazz? Why or why not?
  • What is improvisation? Why is improvisation important to jazz?  Can improvisation be taught?  Are improvised (spontaneously composed) works inherently inferior aesthetically to pre-composed ones?
  • What is a musical work? Does jazz have musical works?  Can an improvised jazz performance be a musical work?
  • What does the ideal jazz musician need to know? Why?
  • How does the brain and mind work when playing and improvising jazz? What happens in a groove state or a flow state as it occurs during a jazz performance?
  • Improvisers spontaneously compose creating fresh melodies over the continuously repeating cycle of chord changes in a song. Why should this be admired as aesthetically valuable activity?  Why is this good?
  • Can mistakes occur during a jazz improvisation? Which ones are not mistakes?  How are mistakes possible?  What kind of mistakes can occur during a jazz performance?
  • Does playing jazz make a musician more spiritual? How has jazz contributed to freedom and creativity in the world?
  • Does jazz have emergent properties?

And we have barely scratched the surface.

So writes David C. Ring (Orange Coast College), editor of the website Philosophy of Jazz and co-organizer of the Jazz and Philosophy Intermodal Conference, would like to invite readers to pursue these topics and questions (and enjoy some jazz jam sessions!) at the conference, May 5-7, 2017. Details below the fold.
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