AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone


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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 media post may not be aesthetic, but rather to simply communicate that a person witnessed a beautiful sunset, and to relay to friends a substitute in the form of a snapshot. And it’s true that applying one of the filters supplied by Instagram is unlikely to have improved the snapshot from an aesthetic point of view (the original aim of using “#nofilter” may have simply been to indicate that one of these filters, in particular, has not been used, but its now much broader pattern of usage strongly suggests its meaning has expanded). Continue reading


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Workshop: Art, Perception and History

The American Society for Aesthetics Board of Trustees has approved support for the Workshop on Art, Perception, and History, at the University of Toronto, May 5-6, 2017. The Workshop is organized by Sonia Sedivy, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto.

ASA has awarded up to $4,600 in support, plus an additional $1000 to support attendance at the Workshop by ASA student members. Support is also being provided by several units of the University of Toronto. The workshop is free and open to the public.

CONFERENCE WEB SITE

NEW! Poster for the Workshop

 

The Manneporte (Étretat), Claude Monet, 1883, The Met Museum

Speakers at the workshop will include:

From Art History

  • Whitney Davis, University of California, Berkeley, Art History

http://arthistory.berkeley.edu/person/1639581-whitney-davis

  • Jason Gaiger, University of Oxford, The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art

http://www.rsa.ox.ac.uk/people/jason-gaiger

  • Amy Powell, University of California, Irvine, Art History

http://www.faculty.uci.edu/profile.cfm?faculty_id=5553

  • Paul G. Smith, University of Warwick, History of Art

https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/arthistory/staff/smith/

From Philosophy of Art or Perception

  • Diarmuid Costello, philosophy, University of Warwick

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/philosophy/people/costello/

  • Robert Hopkins, New York University, Philosophy

http://philosophy.fas.nyu.edu/object/roberthopkins.html

  • Bence Nanay, University of Antwerp, Centre for Philosophical Psychology

http://uahost.uantwerpen.be/bence.nanay/

  • Belinda Piercy, University of Toronto, Philosophy, Ph.D. 2016.
  • Sonia Sedivy, University of Toronto, Philosophy

http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/people/sedivy/

  • Kendall L. Walton, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Philosophy

https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/kendallwalton/

The workshop will focus on the way that works of art and visual culture are poised at the intersection of history and perception. Such works are imbued with their historical situation and with historical relationship to other works. Yet for the most part, it is through their perceptible properties that they have their impact.

To explore this nexus, the workshop aims to bring together art historians with two sub-disciplines from philosophy – philosophy of perception as well as aesthetics. While art historians and philosophers of art have collaborated to some extent, bringing philosophers of perception explicitly into the mix is a recent development. The objective of the workshop is to initiate fully three-way collaborative research between art historians, philosophers of art and aesthetics, and philosophers of perception.

The main goal of the workshop is to create bridges between these three fields of study to produce integrated, multi-dimensional research into works of art and visual culture. A small intensive workshop is ideal for discussing methodological differences, for sharing knowledge and for facilitating shared language.

The workshop will address a number of questions of broad interest to which art historians and philosophers of art and perception have turned their attention. For example:

1. How are historical developments made perceptibly manifest in artworks and non-art pictures more broadly, including photographs?

2. What is aesthetic value? How can such value be both historically contingent and perceptual in nature?

3. How do pictures work? How do diverse kinds of pictorial vehicles make contents available?

4. What is distinctive about photographs?

5. What makes properties aesthetic and when is perceptual experience aesthetic?


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ASA Funds Workshop on Art, Perception, and History

The American Society for Aesthetics Board of Trustees has approved support for the Workshop on Art, Perception, and History, at the University of Toronto, May 5-6, 2017. The Workshop is organized by Sonia Sedivy, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto.

ASA has awarded up to $4,600 in support, plus an additional $1000 to support attendance at the Workshop by ASA student members. Support is also being provided by several units of the University of Toronto. The workshop is free and open to the public.

“Chilkat Blanket, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois, Made of Goat Hair and Cedar Bark” by Field Museum of Natural History is licensed under CC0 1.0

“Chilkat Blanket, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois, Made of Goat Hair and Cedar Bark” by Field Museum of Natural History is licensed under CC0 1.0

Speakers will include:

From Art History

  • Whitney Davis, University of California, Berkeley, Art History

http://arthistory.berkeley.edu/person/1639581-whitney-davis

  • Jason Gaiger, University of Oxford, The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art

http://www.rsa.ox.ac.uk/people/jason-gaiger

  • Amy Powell, University of California, Irvine, Art History

http://www.faculty.uci.edu/profile.cfm?faculty_id=5553

  • Paul G. Smith, University of Warwick, History of Art

https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/arthistory/staff/smith/

From Philosophy of Art or Perception

  • Diarmuid Costello, philosophy, University of Warwick

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/philosophy/people/costello/

  • Robert Hopkins, New York University, Philosophy

http://philosophy.fas.nyu.edu/object/roberthopkins.html

  • Bence Nanay, University of Antwerp, Centre for Philosophical Psychology

http://uahost.uantwerpen.be/bence.nanay/

  • Belinda Piercy, University of Toronto, Philosophy, Ph.D. 2016.
  • Sonia Sedivy, University of Toronto, Philosophy

http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/people/sedivy/

  • Kendall L. Walton, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Philosophy

https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/kendallwalton/

The workshop will focus on the way that works of art and visual culture are poised at the intersection of history and perception. Such works are imbued with their historical situation and with historical relationship to other works. Yet for the most part, it is through their perceptible properties that they have their impact.

To explore this nexus, the workshop aims to bring together art historians with two sub-disciplines from philosophy – philosophy of perception as well as aesthetics. While art historians and philosophers of art have collaborated to some extent, bringing philosophers of perception explicitly into the mix is a recent development. The objective of the workshop is to initiate fully three-way collaborative research between art historians, philosophers of art and aesthetics, and philosophers of perception.

The main goal of the workshop is to create bridges between these three fields of study to produce integrated, multi-dimensional research into works of art and visual culture. A small intensive workshop is ideal for discussing methodological differences, for sharing knowledge and for facilitating shared language.

The workshop will address a number of questions of broad interest to which art historians and philosophers of art and perception have turned their attention. For example:

1. How are historical developments made perceptibly manifest in artworks and non-art pictures more broadly, including photographs?

2. What is aesthetic value? How can such value be both historically contingent and perceptual in nature?

3. How do pictures work? How do diverse kinds of pictorial vehicles make contents available?

4. What is distinctive about photographs?

5. What makes properties aesthetic and when is perceptual experience aesthetic?


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PHILOSOPHER-ARTIST INTERVIEW: SCOTT WALDEN

walden_autoportrait.jpg

Autoportrait, 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.

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Are There Objects of Olfactory Perception?

What follows is a guest post by Clare Batty. Clare is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Kentucky. She received her B.A. (Hons.) in Philosophy from Simon Fraser University in 1999, and her Ph.D. from MIT in 2007.  She works primarily in the philosophy of mind and, in particular, the philosophy of perception. Her current research focuses on olfactory experience. Her recent publications include “Olfactory Objects” (forthcoming, Perception and is Modalities, ed. S. Biggs, D., Stokes and M. Matthen, OUP), “The Illusion Confusion” (Frontiers), and “Smelling Lessons” (Philosophical Studies). 


I want to start with a disclaimer.  I do not work in aesthetics.  Some of my future projects, however, will move toward discussions of olfaction and aesthetics.  What I want to do in the entry is fairly simple.  I want to draw some connections between what philosophers of perception, and the empirical researchers they draw from, discuss and show how that research might help, or at least relate to, some of the challenges faced by an olfactory aesthetics.  So, this post may be a little less ‘aestheticsy’ than usual; but it will hopefully be interesting and/or helpful.  I presented these thoughts at the ASA in San Diego, so for those of you that attended that talk, here they are again in a different medium.

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Conference on Evaluative Perception

Good News: Over the last 10 years or so there has been a noticeable increase in the number of truly outstanding conferences dedicated to issues either within Philosophical Aesthetics or at its various points of intersection with other philosophical subfields. 

Bad News: These conferences are increasingly, if not now almost exclusively, based in the UK or Continental Europe. As a result, US-based Aestheticians, at least those without obscene personal travel allowances, find themselves unable to do more than stare with aching longing at all the shiny conference programs filled with philosophical delights just out of reach.

Case in point: the upcoming three-day conference on Evaluative Perception at University of Glasgow (Sept. 15-18) featuring keynote talks from:

Robert Audi (Notre Dame)
Dominic Lopes (British Colombia)
Jack Lyons (Arkansas)
Sarah McGrath (Princeton)
Paul Noordhof (York)
Susanna Siegel (Harvard)
Kathleen Stock (Sussex)
Dustin Stokes (Utah)
Pekka Väyrynen (Leeds)
Conference details can be found here