Rethinking Aesthetics through Architecture?

in Aesthetic Experience and Somaesthetics
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Linked to the current discourse on rethinking aesthetics, this chapter argues that the revision of the traditional “modern system of the arts” (Kristeller) is inevitable for at least two reasons. First, because that system has to face the increasing dynamics of its enlargement through new phenomena that are considered to have artistic value; and secondly, because of the eruptions of old anomalies and disproportions that characterize the traditional conception of the arts. It is particularly important to record the performative and somatic deficits present in the modern arts through attempted adaptation to the ideal model of literature. My thesis is that the interpretation of the experiential dimensions of architecture (including its multisensory nature) plays a crucial role in repositioning and interrelating the heritage of the five major art forms and recent artistic practices. What’s more, it makes graspable those aesthetic experiences as well that are not classified under the heading of art. All this could be done without parting with systematic thinking in aesthetics. My proposal is that traditional aesthetic thinking founded on specific ideas about literature and then expanded to all the other arts, has to be replaced with another possible aesthetics inspired by the experience of architecture. Thereby the rights of the somatic dimension, which is a decisive factor of the aesthetic experience in its fullness, could become reinstated. I believe the art of architecture provides a more appropriate paradigm for the other arts and for the aesthetic phenomena in general. We can thus offer a relevant alternative to our Hegelian legacy.

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