Art exists as a separate world since anything whatsoever can belong to it. This is precisely one of the arguments of this book.

Got Jacques Rancière’s new book Aisthesis: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art. I have to say that I’ve never really paid any attention to Rancière. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever finished any of his books that I picked up (sometimes out of curiosity, sometimes due to some research interest). This is appears to be some final word on the subject matter, so it could be interesting.

Another Boring Announcement: BSA Essay Prize


The British Society of Aesthetics is running an essay prize competition, open to early-career researchers in aesthetics. The winning author will receive £500 and an opportunity to present the paper at the Society’s annual conference. The winning essay will normally be published in the British Journal of Aesthetics.

The regulations for the competition are as follows: Continue reading

Expectation Heightened, Suddenly Disappears Into Nothing: A Joke.

Justin E. H. Smith has a new post on “gelastics” – “a neologism coined by Mary Beard from the Greek ‘gelan’: ‘to laugh’” – my favorite section is on Kant:

Kant is generally held to have offered the most disappointing account of music in the history of philosophy, one that cordons it off to the margins of human society and human experience, while failing to charge it with that mysterian force that Plato gave it in arguing that it is something too powerful to be allowed to be permitted, unregulated, into the Republic. Certainly, the feature of Kant’s philosophy of music that disappoints the most is that, while for us music is supposed to be serious, for him it is of a pair with jokes. But those who are gravely serious about music should bear in mind that, even if he ranked the figurative arts higher than the aural, he does not seem to have known much, or cared much, about either. Kant was likely the greatest thinker ever to tackle the philosophy of art in the absence of any critical sensibility whatsoever for the object of his theorising.

His sense of humour was equally underdeveloped, as we’ll see. Yet, I want to argue, it is Kant who has given the strongest theoretical account ever offered of the structure and nature of jokes.  Kant is the most prominent representative of what has come to be known as the “incongruity theory of humour,” according to which instances of humour are generated out of the temporal experience of a mixing of incongruous conceptual categories, a mixing that, as he elegantly puts it, gives rise to “the sudden transformation of a strained expectation into nothing [die plötzliche Verwandlung einer gespannten Erwartung in nichts].” Kant explains: “[W]e laugh, and it gives us a hearty pleasure: not because we find ourselves cleverer than this ignorant person, or because of any other pleasing thing that the understanding allows us to note here, but because our expectation was heightened and suddenly disappeared into nothing.”

Michel Henry: Art and the Phenomenology of Life

Our friend over at However Fallible has translated a good deal of an interview with Michel Henry that touches on a range of issues about art, experience and phenomenology.  Read it from the beginning here. I found this exchange particularly interesting, especially Henry’s use of and discussion of Kandindky.

Q: In Material Phenomenology you analyze the “invisible phenomenological substance” that is “the pathetic immediacy in which life experiences itself.” If, as you claim, life is “the principle of everything,” how can one envisage a phenomenology of the invisible or more exactly of the relation between the visible and invisible from the point of view of art? Related question, is the work of art visible or invisible, immanent or transcendant, objective or subjective, internal or external? Here we are referring to the phenomenological reflections of Roman Ingarden.

MH: The questions that you have posed are my questions… Marx says somewhere that Humanity only asks questions that it can answer. I would say, in all modesty, that insofar as being a philosopher working outside of the paths followed by modern thought, I have been in a precarious position in relation to what I have wanted to say, namely it has been very difficult for me to find the conceptual means to express a wholly other phenomenology. A phenomenology sure, but wholly other since my understanding of appearing is not only the appearing of the world, but pathetic givenness, pathetic revelation. Continue reading

Power Fields: Explorations in the Work of Vito Acconci

vito.jpgOne of my (still working) favorite performance artists, Vito Acconci, is part of a broader exhibition and seminar featuring his work in terms of power. If you’re in the area, be sure to check it out. Watch the Slought Foundation website for more online content. The announcement follows below:
Slought Foundation, Philadelphia, in conjunction with the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce Power Fields: Explorations in the Work of Vito Acconci, an exhibition featuring the work of artist Vito Acconci and the Acconci Studio. The exhibition will be on display in the galleries at Slought Foundation from February 15-March 31, 2008; the opening reception will take place on Friday, February 29th, 2008 from 6:30-8:30pm, with a full-day symposium to follow on March 1, 2008 (for more information on related activities, visit http::// The exhibition is co-curated by Christine Poggi (Professor, Department of the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania) and Meredith Malone (Assistant Curator, Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis). A publication documenting the exhibition and associated conference is forthcoming.

Continue reading

New Titles from Stanford UP

A couple of interesting new titles from Stanford University Press:

Exemplarity and Chosenness
Rosenzweig and Derrida on the Nation of Philosophy

Dana Hollander

Forthcoming: Available in January
Buy this book

The Shape of Revelation
Aesthetics and Modern Jewish Thought

Zachary Braiterman

Buy this book
Table of Contents

Performance Art And Reality TV: Initial Questions

In the 1970’s Bay area artist Tony Labat and his partner went on the Gong Show as a work of performance art. In 1976 Cosey Fanny Tutti, with the COUM Transmission, opened “Prostitution” which featured and was inspired by Cosey’s work in the sex industry, in publications in which she herself appeared. Cosey worked as a pornography model for two years for over 40 porn magazines. Her interest was with how British laws classified prostitution as an act that ultimately puts blame on the prostitute alone. She wrote in her artist’s statement:

My projects are presented unaltered in a clinical way…the only difference is that my projbects involve the very emotional ritual of love making. To make an action I must feel that the action is m e and no one else, no influences, just purely me. This is where photos and films coum in. I am laying myself open, fully to myself, and through my action to other people als0…The world dictates what it deems to be reality, thereby annihilating reality and we, COUM cease to exist.

This got me thinking. So, this post is a first “pass” at formulating an approach to examine how/if reality television has altered the notion of performance art, or to put it differently, if performance art needs to be rethought after reality television. My initial thoughts have been to organize the investigation around the concepts of shame/shamelessness, radical/normative, and the more traditional categories of action/object. These are proving, however, to be very opaque framing devices. Regardless, at its conception performance art was meant to be radical. Since Realty TV often hints at the sort of work that performance artists have concerned themselves with, whether the spectacle, shamelessness, the body or boundaries (only to name a few), it seems to me that there may be a good deal of interesting common ground to explore between the two. Continue reading