Session 17

Saturday, June 5

13:30–14:30 (Helsinki, EEST, UTC +3), Congress Room 1

Chair: Mădălina Diaconu

Zhen Yang (Sun Yat-Sen University, Zhuhai, China):

Aesthetic Experience through Breathing: A Horizon Provided by Chinese Aesthetics

Under the dominance of sight and hearing, almost only gustatory sense entered the aesthetic horizon briefly during the discussions on taste in 18th century, and echoed in few contemporary studies, for example, Carolyn Korsmeyer’s publications. Recently, based on the theories of Hermann Schmitz, Gernot Böhme focused on “atmosphere” and “smell,” which are still treated as “quasi-objects.” Breathing as an activity and a approach toward a special aesthetic experience has not yet been fully aware of and researched. The environmental crisis forces us to notice that the landscape could not be appreciated if it is really “breath-taking” with the pollutions, e.g. smog. Breathing is not only a premise of aesthetic experience, but also an indispensable dimension of it. It is distinguished from smell, the latter is a sense of sensory function serving for a cognition, but the former is an active state of our existence, an approach of feeling the living-world spatially and continuously. If we define aesthetics as “a science of sensory perception,” then breathing also has its legitimacy in it. Even under strict check of Kant’s criteria, breathing can also serve as a disinterested, purposeless and generally applying mode of experience which is discerned from neither conceptual knowledge nor practical activities. This perspective has a deep tradition in Chinese aesthetics, in which breathing is regarded as a way of winning a special sense of space; to get a consciousness of communicative existence between inside and outside world; to feel a tension between nothing and something, and therefore to reach an atmosphere (Yijing) with special tune; to lead to an aesthetic attention; and to create artworks for breathing, such as the planning of fragrant plants in the garden, to set burning incense in temple to make it be felt even without seeing, to arrange the fragrant wood-made furniture as inner design, and even to set an aesthetic standard of personality called “breathing like spring breeze.” These lead to aesthetics of breathing, which can expand our discussion of environmental aesthetics today.

Thomas Symeonidis (Athens School of Fine Art, Greece):

Re-Mapping Aesthetics Experience: The Experimentations with Trans-Media Narrations as Models for the Re-Orientation of Sensitivity

The notion of crisis can be understood in many ways. Speaking of aesthetics and artistic practices we could relate the idea of crisis to problems and indeterminations regarding our capacity to represent, to make visible and to project to a common plan of living existence the human and the non-human in its various form, scales and planes of reference.

Re-mapping aesthetics experience simply means a re-orientation of aesthetic thought and practice towards new ways, tools and models for perceiving, presenting and representing our aesthetic, social and political existences in terms of sensibility and sensitivity, that is, in terms of specific diagrams of awareness, perception and attention.

Since we are aware of environmental problems, the next step would be to experiment so as to produce more engaging and compelling fictions regarding our threatened, on essential and vital terms, relation with the living in its various scales.

Here then, the notion of trans-media could be perceived as a synthesis and translation, as well as a network of trans-figuring and manifesting the living and the various associations of the human with its environment. In these respects, and within the aesthetic-political contemporary discourse, would be useful to consider on the same level the thought of Jacques Rancière and Bruno Latour. Both of them stress in various ways the need for producing critical and creative transformation in the manifold ways of elaborating conceptions of (1.) the human and the non-human, (2.) the relevant representations and fictions, (3.) the protocols of translation among various fields and the sciences.

In our analysis, following a brief presentation of the involved conceptual frameworks, we will try to connect theory and practice via the discussion of relevant and contemporary attempts to address artistically the problem of environmental crises. Special attention will be given to the works of Pierre Huyghe, Mark Dion, Fritz Haeg, Sam Easterson and the artistic collaboration between Latour and Frédérique Aït-Touati.