Art and Engagement
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In this book, Arnold Berleant develops a bold alternative to the eighteenth-century aesthetic of disinterestedness. Centering on the notion of participatory engagement in the appreciation of art, he explores its appearance in art and in aesthetic perception, especially during the past century.
the terrain of aesthetic experience in directions that were guided by the inherently perceptual nature of such experience. This meant that the essays dealt more with empirical questions than with conceptual ones, not so much with general issues in aesthetics as with particular ones about how individual arts like painting, sculpture, and literature, and how specific developments in the contemporary arts, actually work in our perceptual experience. As these studies progressed, certain ideas seemed
object remains. Many instances appear, however, in which that very object begins to disintegrate. In the installation piece Les fausses confidences (The False Confidences) (1983), Giulio Paolini has placed a number of merely primed canvases in a low arrangement, while a slide image is projected above them, exemplifying the liberation of the image from the art object. 26 There are other works in which the entire object recedes into insignificance, becoming merely the occasion for exciting a
surrender to the inconstant tastes of a sensation-seeking public, cynically exploited by artists and entrepreneurs?9 And how are we to regard the set of axioms that has dominated our thinking about art for the past two centuries, the legacy of aesthetics' origin as a discipline? Will an aesthetics of engagement abandon all that has special Significance in the arts in a futile quest for acceptance and inclusiveness? Whatever course we follow, these changes in artistic and aesthetic practice cannot
world of perceptual experience, the environment can no longer be regarded as an external location but as a physico-historical medium of engagement, a dynamic field of forces continuous with human life. These broad ideas need to be detailed, so let us pursue a path across this still obscure terrain to explore the aesthetics of the human environment. We shall center first on architecture and on various ways in which a building can relate to its site, ways that suggest different models of
on the other, improvisation is often too rapid to realize the nuances and to choose most truly from among the different dynamic forces that are present at any point in the unfolding of a work. Its freshness lies in the constant possibility of a chance arrival at an unpremeditated chordal structure or turn of phrase, 146 Engagement in the Arts Copyrighted Material where at times the hand leads the ear, not the ear the hand. 16 Improvisation, then, reflects the generative characteristics of