Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

May 18, 2019
by Aesthetics for Birds
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What Fandoms Can Teach Us About the Value of Plot Holes and the Badness of Bad Artists

What follows is a guest post by James Harold, Professor of Philosophy at Mount Holyoke College. Parts of this blog post draw from his article “The Value of Fictional Worlds (or, Why The Lord of the Rings is Worth Reading).” Critics and fans approach certain works (like The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars) very differently. The critics evaluate these works on their own merits, considered as art objects in their own right, while fans consider in terms of their contribution to a larger world of play and creative exploration. While philosophers, like art critics, have spent a lot of time thinking about artworks, they have spent relatively little time thinking about this playful, participatory world, the world that is the focus of fan culture.

February 20, 2018
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Bottom Rail on Top This Time: Politics, Myth, Culture and Afro-fantacism in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panter

What follows is a guest post by Charles Peterson (Oberlin College) I. As Walter Mosley observes in his essay “Black to the Future,” the genre(s) of science fiction/fantasy neé Afro-futurism speak clearly to the dissatisfied through their power to imagine the first step in changing the world: Black people have been cut off from their African ancestry by the scythe of slavery and from an American heritage by being excluded from history. For us, science fiction offers an alternative where that which deviates from the norm is the norm. As such, African-descended people have long understood and utilized the power of narrative to generate the images and ideas that will spark the liberatory imaginings of the sufferers. Particularly in the realms of the fantastic have characters, scenarios, and worlds been constructed to expose the truths of the world as it is and reveal the possibilities of worlds that could be. … Continue reading

September 21, 2017
by Matt Strohl
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Against Rotten Tomatoes

For Matt’s updated thoughts about this topic, see his book, Why It’s OK to Love Bad Movies. Rotten Tomatoes was in the news this summer, as reports were made that the teams behind the Baywatch reboot and most recent Pirates of the Caribbean installment blame the critical aggregator for the films’ poor performance at the box office.  Both films had tested well, and the studios believe that audiences skipping the films in light of their poor Rotten Tomatoes scores otherwise would have attended and enjoyed them.  There is some evidence that the impact of Rotten Tomeatoes on box office earnings has in fact been minimal, but it’s hard to deny that the website has seen an increase in influence in recent years.  There’s no longer any need to actively search for RT scores.  If one simply Googles the title of the movie one is hoping to see, the RT score has … Continue reading

March 13, 2017
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Jerry Saltz: Bad Art Cannot Become Good in New Contexts

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, … Continue reading

June 16, 2014
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Paying (Aesthetic) Attention

What follows is a guest post by Bence Nanay. Bence is Professor of Philosophy and BOF Research Professor at the University of Antwerp and Senior Research Associate at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge. He is the author of Between Perception and Action(Oxford University Press, 2013) and editor of Perceiving the World (Oxford University Press, 2010) and he just finished his book on aesthetics, Aesthetics as Philosophy of Perception (Oxford University Press, under contract), which is all about the concept of attention in aesthetics. This picture shows him doing depiction research and being fascinated by the way pictures can give us very wise advice… Attention!! So, I’ll spoil the 2014 World Cup for you. Not the games, those should be fun, if you’re into that sort of thing. The logo. Which you will see ad nauseam – on flags, World Cup merchandise, in commercials, everywhere.

March 16, 2014
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Conversations in Art and Aesthetics

What follows is a guest post by Hans Maes. Hans is Senior Lecturer in History and Philosophy of Art and co-director of the Aesthetics Research Centre at the University of Kent. He has authored papers on a variety of topics in aesthetics, including the role of intention in the interpretation of art, the notion of free beauty, and the relation between art and pornography. The latter is the subject of two essay collections: Art and Pornography(co-edited with Jerrold Levinson, Oxford University Press, 2012) and Pornographic Art and The Aesthetics of Pornography (Palgrave MacMillan, 2013). I’m currently working on a book with the title “Conversations on Art and Aesthetics” set to appear with OUP in 2015*. The book is modeled after Alex Voorhoeve’s Conversations on Ethics and will contain interviews with a number of prominent aestheticians.  Below is an excerpt from my 2011 interview with Jerrold Levinson. I thought it would be fun to include it … Continue reading

October 10, 2013
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Interview with Poet & Critic David Orr

What follows is an interview with poet David Orr. David is the poetry columnist for the New York Times Book Review. His first book, Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry, was named one of the twenty best books of 2011 by The Chicago Tribune.  Orr is the winner of the Nona Balakian Prize from the National Book Critics Circle and the Editor’s Prize for Reviewing from Poetry magazine.  His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Slate, Poetry magazine, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Believer, among other publications. He holds a B.A. from Princeton and a J.D. from Yale Law School.