Geert Lovink on Thu, 16 Oct 2008 12:22:25 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime-ann> Renée van de Vall, At the Edges of Vision


Renée van de Vall, At the Edges of Vision: A Phenomenological  
Aesthetics of Contemporary Spectatorship, (Ashgate, 2008).

       In At the Edges of Vision, Renée van de Vall re-examines the  
aesthetics of spectatorship in terms of new-media art and visual  
culture. The aesthetic experience of visual art has traditionally been  
described in terms of the distanced contemplation and critical  
interpretation of the work's form and representational content. Recent  
developments in installation, video and computer art have foregrounded  
the bodily and affective engagement of the spectator and, in  
retrospect, throw into question the model of spectatorial distance for  
more traditional art forms as well. But what does this development  
entail for art's potential for reflective, imaginative and  
experiential depth? Is art still capable of providing a critical  
counterpoint to the ubiquitous presence of sensational, yet short- 
lived media imagery when it speaks to the senses rather than to the  

       In a thorough examination of examples from painting, film,  
installation art and interactive video, and computer art, Van de Vall  
argues for a tactile and affective conception of reflection, linking  
philosophy and art. Looking at a Rembrandt self-portrait and  
navigating through an internet art work have in common that both types  
of work rely on a playful, rhythmically structured, sensuous and  
embodied reflexivity for the articulation of meaning. This sensuous  
dimension of playful reflexivity is just as important in philosophical  
thought, however, as the transcendental condition for genuine, open- 
ended reflection.

       Drawing on the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Lyotard  
and Deleuze on the one hand and on new-media theory on the other, Van  
de Vall develops a performative phenomenology of aesthetic reflection,  
visuality and visual art, in order to rethink art's ethical and  
political relevance in present-day digital-media culture.

       Contents: Introduction; Space without hiding places: Merleau- 
Ponty's discussion of linear perspective; Touching the face: the  
ethical dimension of visuality between Levinas and a Rembrandt self- 
portrait; Between battlefield and play: on art and aesthetics in  
visual culture; Criticism from within: on reflection and aesthetic  
feeling; The mediation of passibility: art and interactive  
spectatorship; Bibliography; Index.

       About the Author: Renée van de Vall Associate Professor,  
Faculty of Arts and Culture, University of Maastricht, The Netherlands.

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