Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

March 24, 2020
by Alex King
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AFB’S TERMS OF ART #2: PHILOSOPHY OF ART

Now that increasing numbers of people are stuck at home and sheltering in place, I figured I’d do a little series. Every weekday for the duration of this intense period, I’ll post a short definition of some term in/related to aesthetics and philosophy of art. Let’s see how this goes! See them all here. Term of the Day #2: philosophy of art

February 13, 2020
by Aesthetics for Birds
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What is Art? Let Cognitive Science Help You Answer That Question

What follows is a guest post by Shen-yi Liao, Aaron Meskin, and Joshua Knobe. They offer an overview and summary of the ideas in their new paper, “Dual Character Art Concepts,” just out in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly. (Non-paywalled version available here.) Alfie: This sculpture is not art. I know many people think it is art, but when you think about what art really is, you will realize that it is not art at all. Betty: Of course this is art. It is in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art! Alfie: I know. But all the same, it’s not a true work of art. It’s impersonal factory-produced rubbish. Betty: Wait, I agree that this sculpture is completely awful in every way, but still, it’s obviously a piece of art.

December 31, 2019
by Aesthetics for Birds
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AFB Staff List Their Top 10 of the Decade

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’ve been feeding that love a little bit this December. We have hosted six lists of expert Decade-Best picks, including movies, games, writing, TV, music, and art. Our previous experts have been philosophers and other academics whose work concerns these topics, and people working in/on the relevant media. Today, we have a slightly different theme. Our experts are our own Aesthetics for Birds staff, and they’ll be giving their Top Ten lists across all media and genres, no restrictions (though with some extra effort to include stuff in categories not already covered). It’s art and aesthetics in the broadest possible sense. So without further delay, let’s see this decade’s top aesthetic offerings. … Continue reading

July 31, 2019
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Zombie Formalism: Or, How Financial Values Pervade the Arts

What follows is a guest post by Sarah Hegenbart. Once upon a time, the month of June was jet-set season for the international artworld. After a meet and greet at the preview days at the Venice Biennale, which used to take place in early June, the crowd of artists, curators, critics, dealers, and collectors jumped on a plane, a train, or a yacht heading towards Basel, Switzerland. Basel wakes up at least once a year when astronomical amounts of money are paid for works so contemporary that the paint on the canvases has hardly finished drying. Or possibly even works that are such hot shit that they are not available yet because they are still on view in one of the national pavilions at the Venice Biennale. But the unavailability only increases the desire. (This is a pattern recognizable from other unhealthy relationships, too.) Knowing the economic laws of supply … Continue reading

December 13, 2018
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Is This Really Art? Aesthetic Disagreement and Conceptual Negotiation

What follows is a guest post from Elizabeth Cantalamessa (University of Miami). Think about the endless debates over what, really, is art. We get it over the latest Star Wars movie, or over Richard Prince’s series of Instagram screenshots titled New Portraits, or the recent Banksy “art-world prank” where a print of Girl With a Balloon “self-shredded” upon its auction. Articles are written, exhibitions are curated, theories are proposed – but, if there’s no fact out there in the world that can settle the debates, why do people waste their time trying to get others to agree with them? It seems that we face a dilemma: either people are wasting their time trying to figure out what “really” makes something art – or there is some deep fact about these objects that would settle the debates if aestheticians and the like just do enough analysis and theory.

July 3, 2018
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Why Fashion is More Than a Mere Consumer Object

What follows is a guest post by Laura T. Di Summa (William Paterson University). Perhaps we can agree on the fact that philosophers have not, for the most part, taken fashion very seriously. There seems to be something wrong, specifically, about being fashionable – about trafficking in the world of glossy magazines, runways, and looks and styles that change, frequently, and at a price. There seems to be something wrong about wearing the very clothes we find in those magazines, about buying them, and about investing energy (and money) in keeping up with them.

May 8, 2018
by Aesthetics for Birds
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JAAC X AFB: Is Monday Night Football a Documentary?

What follows is a post in our ongoing collaborative series with the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. This is based on a new article by Henry Pratt, “Are You Ready for Some Football? A Monday Night Documentary?” When I lived in Wisconsin, I had a large, hairy housemate named Brian who watched a lot of hockey and football on TV. Sometimes he’d even do so shirtless to avoid stains from marinara sauce. It turns out that, unbeknownst to me at the time, he’d seen thousands of documentaries and was something of an expert on them. Wait—what? Quoth Gregory Currie, in his prominent article on the category: “game shows turn out to be documentaries about their participants, chat shows documentaries about the interviewer and interviewees, and sports programs documentaries about the activities of the athletes” (294).

April 24, 2018
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Beauty in Strange Places: Art First

I met a critic, I made her shit her drawers She said she thought hip-hop was only guns and alcohol I said “Oh hell naw!” But yet it’s that too You can’t discrimi-hate cause you done read a book or two What if I looked at you in a microscope, saw all the dirty organisms Living in your closet would I stop and would I pause it? …Speeches only reaches those who already know about it This is how we go about it – André 3000, “Humble Mumble” What follows is a guest post by Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò (Georgetown University). This blog recently hosted a post on country music which defended country music partly because of its interaction with the class dynamics between the working class people who listen to the style and the broader culture in which they do so. The author of this piece comes close to a … Continue reading

February 28, 2017
by Aesthetics for Birds
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*This Thursday* JAAC X AFB Discussion: Tavinor on Video Games

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!

February 21, 2017
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Upcoming JAAC X AFB Discussion: Tavinor on Video Games

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!