Book of Abstracts ESA 2023

Objects at Work: How Do Artefacts Work Aesthetically in Everyday Organisational Life? Two Case Studies
Dan Eugen Ratiu

This paper aims to open up new analytical perspectives on the uses and roles of artefacts and space design in everyday organisational life, by addressing the aesthetic dimensions of the everyday world of work and drawing attention to the aesthetic agency of artefacts. The first part addresses theoretical–methodological issues to lay bare specific key principles and methods for analysing the aesthetic character of organizational life, space and actions, and answering the question of how do objects work aesthetically to shaping habits, behaviours and lifestyles in organizations. The second part provides an application through two case studies: the new space of co-working Stables (2020) that repurposed recently the former Austro-Hungarian imperial stables in Cluj (Romania), and the new brand buildings of Bosch’s Engineering Centre campus in Cluj (2020) and in Holzkirchen (2022). I argue that these are not mere cases of practices of renovating and repurposing spaces or urban regeneration of former industrial sites. Rather they exemplify blatantly the role that aesthetic elements play in mediating action, control and performance in organizations as well as the different “aesthetic imperative(s)” in postmodern organisations, including the issue of their “artification” when compared to modern organisations.

Dufrenne on the Spatio-temporality of Pictorial Representation
Dimitris Apostolopoulos

This paper reconstructs Dufrenne’s phenomenological analysis of pictorial representation. It focuses on his suggestion that the pictorial space of paintings is characterized by a distinctive feature: movement within immobility. After reviewing basics tenets of Dufrenne’s phenomenology of art, I explore his account of pictorial structure, with particular focus on his claim that colour can take on a “motor signification”. To illustrate Dufrenne’s account of pictorial movement, I use Delaunay’s Saint-Séverin No. 3 (1909-10) as my main case study.  I then show how Dufrenne uses his account of pictorial movement to develop an original phenomenological argument for the equiprimordiality of space and time. For him, the structure of pictorial representation reveals the fundamental “solidarity” of space with time, and motivates us to appreciate the significance of movement for the constitution of lived space and time. To grasp Saint-Séverin’s presentation of depth, we must virtually explore, and move within, the canvas. But movement, which is change of place, is also a temporal concept: change of place presupposes passage of time. I conclude by considering further philosophical implications of Dufrenne’s account of pictorial representation. 

Aesthetic versus Functional: Overcoming Their Dichotomy in T. W. Adorno’s Functionalism Today
Elettra Villani

The considerations that this paper proposes aim to investigate Adorno’s critique of functionalism, starting from his essay Functionalism today. More precisely, my intent is to show that Adorno’s argumentation moves towards an overcoming of the dichotomy between the aesthetic and the functional, which is conversely one of the functionalist theory’s key assumptions. Adorno’s account does not consider them as mutually exclusive instances, but it grasps them in their intrinsically historical dynamic. More significantly, on the basis of his specific approach, I will take it a step further asserting that such position opens to some more general reflections on the possibilities of aesthetics and of the aesthetic in his philosophy. In particular, I regard Functionalism today as a fitting example of Adorno’s attempt to concretely expand the boundaries of aesthetics beyond art. For this reason, I believe that the stereotyped image of Adorno as a mere apologist of the autonomous art needs to be revised.

AI-aesthetics and the Artificial Author
Emanuele Arielli

Consider this scenario: you discover that an artwork you greatly admire or a captivating novel that deeply moved you is, in fact, the product of artificial intelligence, not the work of a human. Would your aesthetic judgment shift? Would you perceive the work differently? If so, why? The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) in the realm of art has sparked numerous philosophical questions related to authoriality and artistic intention of AI-generated works. This paper delves into the debate between those who view AI as a tool used by human artists and those who see AI as a new form of artistic expression with minimal human involvement. While we often seek a human mind behind certain artwork, we may still appreciate and engage with works that lack this element but have aesthetic value nonetheless. The paper also considers the traditional concept of “implied author, suggesting that readers or artwork viewers might construct an authorial presence from the work itself, regardless of its actual origin. It will be finally suggested how AI-generated art might change our perceptions of human authorship itself.

Bolzano’s Aesthetic Cognitivism
Emine Hande Tuna

This paper examines Bernard Bolzano’s aesthetic cognitivism. One main identifying marker of aesthetic cognitivism is the belief that aesthetic experience is actual cognition. However, aesthetic cognitivism comes in many flavors, each with its own additional commitments. Bolzano’s cognitivism has a German Rationalist flavor to it and is reminiscent of the accounts of earlier German rationalists like Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten and Christian Wolff, one of the fathers of rationalism. As a result, it may appear constrained, rigid, or even archaic. To begin, the features of his philosophy that contribute to this perception, as well as the points of disagreement between Bolzano and the rationalists, will be identified. It will then be argued that, while incorporating various rationalist elements into his theory of aesthetics, Bolzano developed a distinct brand of aesthetic cognitivism.

The Truth of Art. A Reflection Starting from Hegel and Adorno
Giulia Zerbinati

The aim of this paper is to focus on how the dialectical opposition of Wahrheit and Unwahrheit can be studied, both in Hegel and in Adorno, within the specific field of Aesthetics. This not only to shed light on the Hegelian premises of Adorno’s aesthetics, but also to try to read Hegel’s aesthetics through an unusual perspective, as the Adornian one, which at once accepts and reverses its paradigms. Core of the comparison is the question of truth, vital for both philosophers’ dialectics, as it is articulated, in a deep and abiding connection with its dialectical opposite, the untruth, in the philosophical consideration of aesthetic phenomena. In the first part I will deepen how truth and untruth of art are understood by the two authors; in the second part I will consider art as a rational way of expressing truth and explore both authors’ interpretation of the relation between the aesthetic and the conceptual (and/or between art and philosophy); finally, in the third part I will discuss the bond between art and socio-historical dimension in order to take into account both authors’ critical question on art’s possibilities within the present world.

Displaying Participatory Art
Gizela Horvath

Recently, participatory art has become more and more present on the international scene and also in theoretical debates. This tendency was clearly visible at the Documenta 15, which displayed a lot of participatory art projects. My presentation underlines the differences between the modern paradigm of art and the model offered by participatory art, suggesting that the most acute problem raised by this form of art is related to the communication of art: displaying and receiving/consuming participatory art is not resolved in the frames of actual institutional practices. The two major questions are what to exhibit and what is the receiver expected to do. Based on the discussion of these questions, there are two possibilities. A possible solution is to renounce the exhibitions of this form of art. Participatory art should not be exhibited at all, it has an intrinsic value, obvious for the target group, and no meaning for others. Another possible solution is to find a way of presenting participatory art to the public. Here we also have two possibilities: presenting participatory art by non-artistic ways or presenting participatory art as ongoing projects, in which cases we have to carefully consider what do we expect from viewers.

Simmel and the Aesthetics of Luxury
Gregorio Fiori Carones

Luxury is a rarely discussed topic within aesthetics. Even less observed is George Simmel’s perspective on the aesthetics of luxury, which can be found in Philosophie des Geldes and in Das Geheimnis. Eine sozialpsychologische Skizze
My paper has two purposes: first, to analyse the texts so that his position becomes clear. Secondly, his contribution is to be interpreted from a social aesthetic perspective. Social aesthetics is the study of the aesthetic dimension of society, occupying both the field of studies that focuses on the realm of sensation and perception (aisthesis) and that pertaining to the theory of art as well as to those techniques used to shape and transform the sensible world. 
If Philosophie des Geldes is interpreted under these lenses, then the description of an ambivalent aesthetic phenomenon is provided: luxury, is, on the one hand, a private experience, but, on the other hand, an inter-subjective interaction is required. In luxury, so my thesis, there is double experience: of distance, as for art in the basic Kantian assumption, and of narrowness, through possession, as in Benjamin’s Ich packe meine Bibliothek aus.

Mind, Agency, and Art: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Designed Worlds
Jacopo Frascaroli

The last few decades of debate in cognitive science and the philosophy of mind have accustomed us to the idea that the human mind might be as much the product of human-made environments as it is their cause. The environments we build alter our minds, leading to new environmental modifications that spur further mental development, in repeated swells of reciprocal influence (Dennett, 1991; Clark, 1997; Knappett, 2005; Malafouris, 2013). If this is the case, however, artists and designers are invested with a moral vocation, and must juggle with a complex moral dilemma: either they build environments that confirm our existing patterns of action and perception and drive no further learning, or they build environments that disrupt our existing patterns of action and perception and stir our developmental trajectories in new directions. In this talk, I will show by means of examples how both these alternatives have crucial repercussions for our sense of agency, freedom and well-being. The upshot will be a picture that rehabilitates the image of the artist as an “engineer of the human soul” and sheds new light on the complex relationships between aesthetic and ethical imperatives.

Analog-Digital Conversion and the Cognitive Value of Visual Representation
Jason Gaiger

Technological advances in the storage, retrieval and processing of information have led to an increasing reliance on visualization as a means of presenting and analysing data. The use of visualizations to establish knowledge claims raises questions about the cognitive value of images and the contribution that visual representation can make to scientific enquiry. An informative way of addressing these questions can be derived from Dretske’s analysis of the conversion of information from analog to digital form in his Knowledge and the Flow of Information (1981). Dretske’s reworking of the analog-digital distinction needs to be carefully distinguished from the traditional conception – which rests on the contrast between a continuous and a discrete representational system – but his description of digital conversion as a process that involves a loss in the richness and profusion of information at the source and a gain in ‘generalisation, categorisation or classification’ offers a promising means of understanding the cognitive value of visualization techniques. Dretske consistently identifies pictures with the analog encoding of information, but I show that this assumption is not warranted: scientific visualizations can successfully convert information from analog to digital form, in Dretske’s technical sense, and thus provide the required cognitive gain.

Ontology of Installation Art: Definition and Implications
Javier Leñador

This paper aims to present an alternative definition of installation art. We will come up with a new ontology of this art form based on the recent literature on aesthetics and art theory, with similarities and differences from other proposals presented before. In doing so, we will focus on the media profile of the oeuvres, following other authors such as Irvin (2022), Lopes (2014), or Caldarola (2020), as well as the role of the public and its affective response.
In a context in which Installations seem to be a slippery and difficult term to define, our objective is to mark the sufficient and necessary conditions to denominate something as an artistic installation. Far from being dogmatic, with this new definition, we try to enrich the debate around Installation Art as well as to use it as an operational one that helps us to draw a distinction between some artworks and others, with different implications for the public experience.

Ressentiment, Artivism and Magic
Lev Kreft

Wars for imperial domination; terror caused by climate change; growing rift between excessively rich and powerful, and masses living under threshold of poverty; these and other ghosts are haunting contemporaneity. Artists respond, even mainstream cultural institutions are willing to prove that they are pillars of social responsibility by exhibiting and supporting artworks engaged in solutions, protesting, and subversion. Artistic activities have to be researched as to their different tactics in opposition to hegemonic strategies which are here to strengthen or maintain global regime of power. These artistic practices can be divided into three groups: ressentiment,  artistic activism or artivism, and art’s magic power. The first one is a typically modern phenomenon related to struggle between cultural pessimism and hope, and between avant-garde and decadence. The second and the third decide differently from where the power of art to change the world comes – from the ability to persuade and mobilize people to act outside the artworld through rational argumentation and opening a public space for deliberation, or, from the magic ability of artworks to create heterotopic worlds which influence situation by radiating imagination and desire to dream alternative way(s) of life. In presentation, these practices will be exemplified by three cases: Oliver Frljić theatrical work (especially one concerning Yugoslav nostalgia and denigration); Documenta 15 with its excessive politicization (especially allegedly anti-Semitic project of Taring Padi); and Venice biennale 2022 curated by Cecilia Alemani following the Milky way of surrealist dreams and desires.

Revisiting the Concept of the End of Art
Lukáš Makky

The fine art of the 20th Century can be defined by three significant theoretical concepts that embody variability and “new” poetics of fine art: the death of the author (Barthes 1967), open work (Eco, 1962) and the end of art (Danto 1984) or the end of history of art (Belting 1987). All three of them are based on the same ground (abandoning and questioning traditional structures and forms of art), and represent similar lines of thinking that identifies a necessary and forthcoming change in art. The end of art is in the paper understood as a declaration of artistic decline. The aim of the paper can be summarised as follows: accept the end of art only as a theoretical construct, understand it as a signal of possible changes of the past development of art, and define the “periods” of the end of art (higher concentration of the symptoms of the end of art) as a big milestone of the history of art.

Performing Past Music: A Twist on Historical Authenticity
Nemesio G. C. Puy

According to a mainstream view in the philosophy of music, the most valuable way of performing works of past times is according to the ideal of Historically Authentic Performance (HAP). I defend that this mainstream view lacks of motivation, and hence that it should be abandoned or revised. In §2, I argue that two ways of motivating HAP as a final and fundamental value for performing past works, supplied by Jerrold Levinson and Stephen Davies, are inconsistent with the work-focused teleology of workperformance. In §3, I introduce a plausible motivation for the value of HAP in workperformance, which takes HAP as a way of performing past works convincingly. In that case, however, HAP is not the best way of performing past works, but only an interpretive option. Finally, in §4, I consider an alternative defence of the value of HAP in the form of an indispensability argument: performing past works according to HAP is indispensable to comply with their scores, and thus to perform them faithfully. However, if we take this option seriously, HAP must be understood in a substantively different manner than the mainstream view, such that it ultimately reduces to the option analysed in §3.

Aesthetic Education, Conversation, and the Ontology of the Classroom
Peter Hajnal

This talk outlines one possible way of reorienting the conception of aesthetic education adequate to an ontology of embodiment. The approach followed is inspired by the work of Stanley Cavell, particularly his ideas of “philosophical criticism” and “presentness”. Philosophical criticism enhances our capacity to experience our “presentness” to each other as embodied members of a utopian community limited in both space and time (the classroom) in mutual recognition and acknowledgement of both our separateness and fatedness to expressiveness. Unlike the traditional, formalistic idea of humanistic aesthetic education for which “a good work of visual art carries a person who is capable of appreciating it out of life into ecstasy,”(Clive Bell)  the Cavellian, linguistic and content based perfectionist view induces the experience of the ordinary, the here and now, as the extraordinary. This therapeutic view of the aesthetic emphasises our capacity for community rather than promoting a form of narcissistic ecstasy as fantasized by the Cartesian tradition.

Everydayness in Our Aesthetic Experience of the City
Sara Vieira Romão

This presentation delves into the interplay between habits, everyday aesthetics, and access to public spaces, highlighting the importance of flexible and fluid place-making. It addresses two paramount concerns: the role of public place-making in shaping habits and common-sense beliefs; and the potential redesign of cities to cater to specific aesthetic emotions arising from everyday aesthetic appreciation.

Urban design solidifies and materializes these power dynamics as understood and internalized by city dwellers. Challenging these dynamics requires an awareness of feeling out of place. Everyday aesthetics assume a transformative role, questioning prevailing norms and catalyzing change.

This process entails the aesthetic and emotional dimensions within different city areas, delving into feelings of fear, discomfort, and inadequacy. Urban planning should strike a delicate balance, adapting local identity to respond effectively to social, cultural, and political shifts. Place-making encompasses understanding cultural and historical processes alongside material forms. It is vital to explore the tensions between habitus, accessibility to public spaces, and aesthetic appraisal of the every day to achieve a balanced and appropriate usage.

Democratic and Aesthetic Participation as Imposition: On the Aesthetics of the Collective
Sarah Hegenbart

In 2022, the global exhibition documenta fifteen drew attention to a distinctive approach in curatorial and artistic practice: aesthetic collaboration as part of a collective. While documenta fifteen has been broadly discussed with regard to its political agenda, the aesthetic strategies involved in collective curatorial and artistic practice received less attention. This paper will explore the philosophical and aesthetic implications of collective work and targets to work towards an aesthetic account of the collective.

In order to refine our understanding of the political force of the work of an aesthetically operating collective, I will transfer the political concept of a ‘democracy of imposition’, which the political scientist Felix Heidenreich introduced in his Demokratie als Zumutung: Für eine andere Bürgerlichkeit (2022), to the realm of aesthetics. The idea of ‘democracy of imposition’ emphasises the necessity to exercise active citizenship and to participate in democratic processes in order to guarantee a functioning democracy. It adopts a concept the political philosopher Christoph Möllers sketched out in his Demokratie – Zumutungen und Versprechen (2008) and develops this further. I will argue that approaching the practice of collectives against the backdrop of the concept of ‘participation as imposition’ is necessary for giving a full account of their aesthetic potential.

Fact, Fiction and Understanding
Stacie Friend

Philosophers and other scholars have long held that reading fiction, particularly literary fiction, is cognitively valuable. They have argued, for example, that fiction deepens understanding, enhances empathy, cultivates psychological insight, exercises moral imagination, refines emotions, or increases modal or conceptual knowledge. The capacity of fiction to convey factual information is, by contrast, typically ignored in these discussions. In this paper I argue that the way we learn facts from fiction is essential to explaining several other cognitive values often attributed to fiction. Works of fiction are about the world in which we live, and they are cognitively valuable when they illuminate features of that world.  I further suggest that truth and accuracy may contribute, not just to the cognitive value of a work of fiction, but also to its value as fictional literature. This is because the processes by which we learn facts from fiction are integral to literary appreciation.

On Distinguishing Activist Art from Protest Props
Sue Spaid

To distinguish activist art from protest props, I explore activist ecoventions, whose purpose (‘draw attention to ecological problems’) appears identical to that of nonart eco-activism (‘draw attention to ecological problems’), which makes them seem indiscernible. However, activist ecoventions not only publicise ecological issues and/or monitor ecological problems, but they prompt ‘measurable change’. After fleshing out the differences between artworks’ function, use and practicality, I explain why ‘living sculptures’ are ‘doubly’ purposeful and ‘triply’ complex, which could explain the artworld’s reluctance to include them in its canon. In reviewing the birth of activist ecoventions, I tease out additional features that distinguish activist ecoventions from nonart eco-activism, enabling me to discern activist art from indiscernible nonart activism, more generally. Along the way, I prove that activist art, not just those tied to ecoventions, is freely implemented without any expectation of return. Being both generous and non-instrumental, activist art achieves its aims creatively without having to harm any living beings.

Guilt is Ethical, Shame is Aesthetic
Thorsten Botz-Bornstein

Guilt pertains to the realm of ethics whereas shame mainly pertains to that of aesthetics. While guilt results from accusations of unlawful behavior, shame tends to be produced by pointing out how the transgressing individual “looks” within a certain social context. I show that a confusion of the aesthetic and ethical components has often given shame an unclear or even irrational outlook. The allusions that aim to make the shamed subject feel embarrassed do not necessarily have an ethical character. Despite this, shame is generally seen as an ethical sanction. I analyze the ethicization of aesthetics as well as the aesthetization of ethics, both of which are often due to the confusion of guilt and shame. We must see aesthetics as detached from ethics: an infraction committed must induce guilt and it is not necessary to aestheticize the act in order to induce shame. Next, we must avoid the ethicization of aesthetics. A person’s potentially “shameful” behavior should be considered irrespectively of ethical questions.

Organic Form, Representation, and Cognitive Aesthetic Value
Vitor Guerreiro

Formalists about art stress the role of form in art but keep it apart from the cognitive. Anti-formalists about art stress the value of the cognitive but keep it apart from the formal. The former are animated by a fundamentally hedonistic conception of the aesthetic; the latter by a fundamentally cognitivist conception of art. Both agree that the formal consists of appearance properties, as against the ‘symbolic’ or representational which is associated with the cognitive.

I claim both are right about different things and wrong about the same thing. I defend the view that form is the most important thing in art but also the most important cognitive aspect of art. The two ‘grand projects’ of aesthetics – a theory of the aesthetic and a theory of art – are dead ends. My view is that ‘form is all you need’ (to carry on with the puzzles of aesthetics but with less clutter). The aim is to defend a conception of form as ‘the organic concatenation of a whole’s syntactic parts’ that combines the truth in formalism with the truth in anti-formalism.

How to Conserve a Fake Ruin? Heritage Dilemmas between Aesthetics and Practice
Zoltán Somhegyi

Fake ruins were very popular in the 18th-19th century. They were designed and built to look like classical ruins, i.e. edifices from much earlier times being eaten up by Nature, and resulting in an aesthetically pleasing, picturesque form. Despite all their original appeal however, currently they confront us with the dilemma: what are we to do with them now? The issue becomes urgent when we reach a turning point: when “sufficient” time has passed, these fake ruins will start to really decay. In order to see further details of this dilemma, in my presentation I first investigate the characteristics of classical ruins and their possible afterlives to then compare them with the features of fake ruins and the potential approaches of their conservation.

After this, I survey the aesthetic and practical implications of these practices. As I argue, such processes are not merely theoretical and aesthetic-oriented, but – among others due to their connections with the interpretation of history, and with political and cultural identity – they can also play serious roles in ongoing cultural wars.