Author: Sage Elwell
This slim volume offers a thematic exploration of religion and the digital arts. Over the course of six brief sections, this extended essay examines identity and community, authority and authenticity, word and image, ritual and practice, body and space, and myth and faith. Each of these paired sets is explored in concert with technologically inflected correlates. For instance, identity and community are paired with avatars and networks. These twin concepts provide the thematic anchor of each section. Each section looks at four works of digital art with each work employing digital technology in a unique way. The works include virtual and augmented reality pieces, 3D printed sculptures, digital photography, and digitally enabled performance pieces and installations and span the late 1990s to the present. This essay is an introduction to religion and the digital arts and, while no single conclusion can be drawn from such an expansive and diverse field, the reassertion of the religious and theological importance of the body and emotions in the face of digital technology emerges as a recurrent theme.
Author: J. Sage Elwell

Abstract

This chapter offers a two-part meditation on the work of Ana Mendieta and Hans Breder followed by an interview with Breder on the subject of art, body, and nature in his mirror-body works and her Silueta works.The first section presents a brief biographical sketch of Breder and Mendieta followed by an exploration of their independent and collaborative work together, attending in particular to the place of the body and/in nature in Mendieta’s Silueta series and Breder’s body-mirror series.The second section interrogates their work in order to understand the dialectical aesth/ethics of the sacred/profane liminality where embodiment meets environment. This section explores the relationship between Breder and Mendieta’s differing, but parallel, aesthetic sensibilities and the concomitant ethical commitments they imply.Specifically, this section attends to how their work instantiates a place between the sacred and the profane where the body meets nature.

In: Arts, Religion, and the Environment
Author: J. Sage Elwell

Abstract

This essay takes up the challenge of unpacking the nature of what Schleiermacher called the “inner affinity” between religion and art. Drawing on the work of philosophers of art such as Susanne Langer and Arthur Danto, and philosophers of religion like Loyal Rue and David Tracy, I suggest that religion and art have at their core a comparable metaphorical structure that lends them this common communion. From this shared structure, I deduce five principal conclusions that I take to be the key avenues of affiliation between religion and art.

In: Religion and the Arts
Author: J. Sage Elwell

Abstract

This article asks after the theological import of the two end of art theses proposed by Arthur Danto and Donald Kuspit respectively. In tribute to the coming thirtieth anniversary of Arthur Danto’s essay “The End of Art” and the tenth anniversary of Donald Kuspit’s book The End of Art, I take up here their respective theories in an attempt to go beyond the surface of their ideas and to ask after the depth of the end(s) of art. Their theses point to a crisis of reflexivity in the respective artworlds they describe and that this crisis is the result of the loss and failed recovery of spiritual depth. Danto’s end of art thesis offers a truth that tells a lie—that there was never depth there to begin with—while Kuspit’s offers a lie that tells the truth—that that depth can be recovered. Danto’s thesis speaks to early postmodern art’s loss of spiritual depth while Kuspit’s addresses late postmodern art’s failure to recover that depth. Taken together, their ends of art present the lying-truth of an irretrievably lost sacred and the true-lie that the sacred in the arts can be recovered.

In: Religion and the Arts