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Contemporary Aesthetics does not publish book reviews. However, to inform our readers of new publications of interest, we do publish brief descriptions extracted from information provided by the publishers. These notices do not necessarily represent the views or judgment of this journal. Readers are invited to send us such information about books they think will interest other readers of CA.


 


Janet Wolff, The Aesthetics of Uncertainty (New York:  Columbia University Press, 2015), 184 pp.
ISBN 9780231140973

Feminism, poststructuralism, postcolonialism, and Marxism, among other critical approaches have undermined traditional notions of aesthetics in recent decades. But questions of aesthetic judgment and pleasure persist, and many critics now seek a "return to aesthetics" or a "return to beauty."

Janet Wolff advances a "postcritical" aesthetics grounded in shared values that are negotiated in the context of community. She relates this approach to contemporary debates about a committed politics similarly founded on the abandonment of certainty. Neither universalist nor relativist, The Aesthetics of Uncertainty provides a discourse on beauty that contemporary critics can engage with and offers a basis for judgment that is committed to assigning value to works of art.

Wolff explores her position through a range of topics: the question of beauty in relation to feminist critique; the problematic status of twentieth-century English art, visual representations of the Holocaust, Jewish identity as portrayed by the artist R. B. Kitaj, refugee artists and modernism in 1940s Britain, and the nature and appeal of imagistic thinking in sociology. She addresses the desire for certainty and the timeliness of doubt, and concludes with a meditation on the intersection of aesthetics and ethics, arguing that ethical issues are very much implicated in aesthetic discourse.


Numbers and Nerves, eds. Scott Slovic & Paul Slovic (Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press, 2015), 238 pp.
ISBN 9780870717765

Numbers and Nerves explores a wide range of psychological phenomena and communication strategies.  These include fast and slow thinking, psychic numbing, pseudoinefficacy, the prominence effect, the asymmetry of trust, contextualized anecdotes, multifaceted mosaics of prose, and experimental digital compositions, among others, and it places these in real-world contexts. In the past two decades, cognitive science has increasingly come to understand that we, as a species, think best when we allow numbers and nerves, abstract information and experiential discourse, to work together. This book provides a roadmap to guide that collaboration.


Mauro Carbone, The Flesh of Images: Merleau-Ponty between Painting and Cinema, trans. Marta Nijhuis (Albany, NY:  SUNY Press Books, 2015), 128 pp.
ISBN  978-1-4384-5879-3

In The Flesh of Images, Mauro Carbone begins with the point that Merleau-Ponty’s often misunderstood notion of “flesh” was another way to signify what he also called “Visibility.” Considering vision as creative voyance, in the visionary sense of creating as a particular presence something which, as such, had not been present before, Carbone proposes connections between Merleau-Ponty and Paul Gauguin, and articulates his own further development of the “new idea of light” that the French philosopher was beginning to elaborate at the time of his sudden death. Carbone connects these ideas to Merleau-Ponty’s continuous interest in cinema—an interest that has been traditionally neglected or circumscribed. Focusing on Merleau-Ponty’s later writings, including unpublished course notes and documents not yet available in English, Carbone demonstrates both that Merleau-Ponty’s interest in film was sustained and philosophically crucial, and also that his thinking provides an important resource for illuminating our contemporary relationship to images, with profound implications for the future of philosophy and aesthetics. Building on his earlier work on Marcel Proust and considering ongoing developments in optical and media technologies, Carbone adds his own philosophical insight into understanding the visual today.


Sonia Keravel, Passeurs de Paysages:  Le Projet de Paysage comme Art Relationnel (MētisPresses, 2015), 144 pp.  In French. 
ISBN   978-2-94-0406-94-4   

In environmental practices, the question of reception remains under-studied. Leaning on the analysis of several contemporary achievements, this work seeks to understand how landscape designers conceive their plans by anticipating the way they will be understood by future users. These analyses show that if the process of landscape design varies considerably; it is in every case an art that relates the landscape to its user in a relation of exchange of person and environment.  In reconstructing the process of conceiving new projects, Keravel distinguishes between landscapes to be read that are founded on a narrative; and landscapes to be lived, where the visitor is in a state of immersion and where landscapes constantly evolving and invite the visitor's creative contribution.


Karl Rosenkranz, Aesthetics of Ugliness: A Critical Edition, trans. Andrei Pop & Mechtild Widrich (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), 335 pp.
ISBN 978147258854

In this text, Karl Rosenkranz shows ugliness to be the negation of beauty without being reducible to evil, materiality, or other negative terms used in its conventional condemnation.  This insistence on the specificity of ugliness, and on its dynamic status as a process afflicting aesthetic canons, reflects Rosenkranz's interest in the metropolis. Like Walter Benjamin, he wrote on Paris and Berlin, and possessed a voracious appetite for collecting caricature and popular prints.  Living and teaching, like Kant, in remote Königsberg, Rosenkranz reflects on phenomena of modern urban life, from the sublime to the comic, at a distance that results in critical illumination.  The struggle with modernization and idealist aesthetics makes Aesthetics of Ugliness, published four years before Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal, relevant to modernist experiment as well as to the twenty-first century theoretical revival of beauty.  Aesthetics of Ugliness reworks conceptual understandings of what it means for a thing to be ugly. 


Cecilia Sjöholm, Doing Aesthetics with Arendt: How to See Things (New York:  Columbia University Press, 2015),
219 pp. 
ISBN 9780231173087

Cecilia Sjöholm reads Hannah Arendt as a philosopher of the senses, grappling with questions of vision, hearing, and touch even in her political work.  Constructing an Arendtian theory of aesthetics from the philosopher's fragmentary writings on art and perception, Sjöholm begins a new chapter in Arendt scholarship that expands her relevance for contemporary philosophers. 

Arendt wrote thoughtfully about the role of sensibility and aesthetic judgment in political life and on the power of art to enrich human experience.  Sjöholm draws a clear line from Arendt's consideration of these subjects to her reflections on aesthetic encounters and works of art mentioned in her published writings and stored among her memorabilia.  This effort allows Sjöholm to revisit Arendt's political concepts of freedom, plurality, and judgment from an aesthetic point of view and to incorporate Arendt's insight into current discussions of literature, music, theater, and visual art.  Though Arendt did not explicitly outline an aesthetics, Sjöholm's work substantively incorporates her perspective into contemporary reckonings with radical politics and their relationship to art. 


Alva Noë, Strange Tools:  Art and Human Nature (New York:  Hill and Wang, 2015), 285 pp.
ISBN 9780809089178

What is art? Why does it matter to us? What does it tell us about ourselves? Normally, we look to works of art in order to answer these fundamental questions.  But what if the objects themselves are not what matter?  In Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature, Alva Noë argues that our obsession with works of art has gotten in the way of understanding how art works on us. 

For Noë, art isn't a phenomenon in need of an explanation but a mode of research, a method of investigating what makes us human--a strange tool.  Art isn't just something to look at or listen to; it is a challenge, a dare to try to make sense of what it is all about.  Art aims not for satisfaction but for confrontation, intervention, and subversion.  Through diverse and provocative examples from the history of art-making, Noë reveals the transformative power of artistic production.  By staging a dance, choreographers cast light on the way bodily movement organizes us.  Painting goes beyond depiction and representation to call into question the role of pictures in our lives.  Accordingly, we cannot reduce art to some natural aesthetic sense or trigger; recent efforts to frame questions of art in terms of neurobiology and evolutionary theory alone are doomed to fail.  By engaging with art, we are able to study ourselves in profoundly novel ways. In fact, art and philosophy have much more in common than you might think.

 

Eva Kit Wah Man, Issues of Contemporary Art and Aesthetics in Chinese Context (Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2015),103 pp.
ISBN 978-3-662-46509-7

This book discusses how China’s transformations in the last century have shaped its arts and its philosophical aesthetics. How have political, economic and cultural changes shaped China's aesthetic developments?  Further, how have China's long-standing beliefs and traditions clashed with modern desires and forces, and how have these changes materialized in art?  In addition to answering these questions, this book brings Chinese philosophical concepts on aesthetics into dialogue with those of the West and contributes to the discussion in the fields of art, comparative aesthetics, and philosophy.


Julian Jason Haladyn, Boredom and Art:  Passions of the Will To Boredom (Zero Books, 2015), 208 pp.
ISBN  978-1-78279-998-6      978-1-78279-999-3

Boredom and Art examines the use of boredom as a strategy in modern and contemporary art to resist or frustrate the effects of consumerism and capitalism. This book traces the emergence of what Haladyn terms 'the will to boredom' in which artists, writers, and philosophers actively attempt to use the lack of interest inherent in the state of being 'bored' to challenge people. Instead of accepting the prescribed meanings of life given to us by consumer or mass culture, boredom represents the possibility of creating meaning: "a threshold of great deeds" in Walter Benjamin’s memorable wording. It is this conception of boredom as a positive experience of modern subjectivity that is the main critical position of Haladyn's study.  He proposes that boredom is used by artists as a form of aesthetic resistance that, at its most positive, is the will to boredom.


Natasha Chuk, Vanishing Points: Articulations of Death, Fragmentation, and the Unexperienced Experience of Created Objects (Intellect, 2015), 196 pp.
ISBN 9781783204762

Deploying Jaques Derrida's notion of the 'unexperienced experience' and building on Paul Virilio's ideas about the aesthetics of disappearance, Vanishing Points explores the aesthetic character of presence and absence as articulated in contemporary art, photography, film, and emerging media. Addressing works ranging from Robert Rauschenberg to the television series Six Feet Under, Natasha Chuk emphasizes the notion that art is an accident, an event that registers numerous overlapping, contradictory orientations, or vanishing points, between its own components and the viewers' perspective, thus generating the power to create unexperienced experiences. This volume is for anyone interested in contemporary art and its intersection with philosophy. 


Ben Blumson, Resemblance and Representation: An Essay in the Philosophy of Pictures (OpenBookPublishers, 2014).
ISBN 9781783740727

It’s a platitude that whereas words are connected to what they represent merely by arbitrary conventions, pictures are connected to what they represent by resemblance. The first aim of this book is to defend this platitude from the apparently compelling objections raised against it by analyzing depiction in a way that reveals how it is mediated by resemblance. The second aim of this book is to defend an extremely close analogy between depiction and description.

Blumson's strategy is to argue that the apparently compelling objections raised against theidea  that depiction is mediated by resemblance are manifestations of more general problems, which are familiar from the philosophy of language. These problems, he argues, can be resolved by answers analogous to their counterparts in the philosophy of language without rejecting the platitude. So the combination of the idea that depiction is mediated by resemblance with a close analogy between depiction and description turns out to be a compelling theory of depiction that combines the virtues of common sense with the insights of its detractors.


Jean-Paul Thibaud, En Quête D'ambiances; Eprouver la Ville en Passant, (Genève: Metispresses, 2015).  In French.
ISBN  9782940406975

The domain of ambiances (often translated as atmospheres in English) has developed apace over the past twenty years. Disciplines as diverse as aesthetics, architecture, ethnography, environmental psychology, microsociology, cultural geography, and urban studies have all come around to the idea of ambiance in order to describe and analyze the sensory fabric of the urban world more effectively.  Ambiance cannot simply be assimilated to such concepts as the environment, landscape, or physical comfort, close as it may be to them.  Rather, it involves a socio-aesthetic approach that attunes the researcher to everyday urban atmospheres.  In a nutshell, an ambiance can be provisionally defined as a space-time qualified from a sensory perspective.  It emerges as an alternative way to bridge the sensate, spatial, and social domains.

This publication consists of a collection of essays about the notion of urban ambiances, conjugating theoretical reflection, methodological proposal, and empirical investigation.  Freely inspired by a pragmatic orientation, this book aims at inquiring ordinary sensory experience of city-dwellers and questioning the sensitive city in its contemporary developments.  It is a question of scientifically grounding the notion of ambiance within urban studies by investigating its heuristic potential and its operating value. Various themes underlie the project:  urban public places, sonic and light environments, walking in the city, underground sensory environments, in situ qualitative methodology.


Bojana Kunst, Artist at Work, Proximity of Art and Capitalism (Zero Books, August 2015), 241 pp.
ISNB 978-1-78535-000-9       978-1-78535-001-6

The main affirmation of artistic practice today must happen through thinking about the conditions and the status of the artist's work.  Only then can it be revealed that what is part of the speculations of capital is not art itself but mostly artistic life.  Artist at Work examines the recent changes in the labor of an artist and addresses them from the perspective of performance.  Bojana Kunst explains that artistic practice must be self-reflexive if artists want to create works that are not merely reflections of capitalism.  What's needed is an artistic life.  


Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, The Phenomenology of Dance (Temple University Press, 2015), 180 pp.
ISBN 978-1-4399-1262-1 

In The Phenomenology of Dance, first published in 1966, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone asked:  “When we look at a dance, what do we see?”  Her questions about the nature of our experience of dance and the nature of dance as a formed and performed art are still provocative and acutely significant today.  Sheets-Johnstone considers dance as an aesthetic mode of expression, and integrates theories of dance into philosophical discussions of the nature of movement.

Back in print after nearly twenty years, The Phenomenology of Dance provides an informed approach to teaching dance and to dance education, appreciation, criticism, and choreography. In addition to the foreword by Merce Cunningham from the original edition, and the preface from the second edition, this fiftieth anniversary edition includes an in-depth introduction that critically and constructively addresses present-day scholarship on movement and dance.


Katya Mandoki, The Indispensable Excess of the Aesthetic: Evolution of Sensibility in Nature (Plymouth, UK:  Lexington Books, forthcoming).

ISBN 978-1-4985-0306-8

The Indispensable Excess of the Aesthetic: Evolution of Sensibility in Nature traces the evolution of sensibility from the most primal indications detectable at the level of cellular receptors and plant tendril sensitivity, animal creativity and play, to its cultural ramifications.  Taking on Darwin’s insistence that animals do have a sense of beauty together with recent evolutionary observations, this book argues that sensibility is a biological faculty that emerges together with life. Katya Mandoki argues that there is appreciation and discernment of quality, order, and meaning by organisms in various species determined by their morphological adaptations and environmental conditions. Drawing upon Baumgarten’s foundational definition of aesthetics as scientia cognitionis sensitivae, this book proposes a non-anthropocentric approach to aesthetics as well as the use of empirical evidence to sustain its claims updating aesthetic understanding with contemporary biosemiotic and evolutionary theory. The text leads us along three distinct but entwined areas to explore how and why sensibility could have evolved:  from the world of inert matter to that of living matter to the realm of cultivated living matter. It points out that aspects traditionally used to demarcate and characterize human aesthetics, such as appreciation of symmetry, proportion, and color, as well as pleasure, valuation, and empathy, sensory seduction, creativity, and skills for representation and even fiction are present not only in humans but also among a variety of plant and animal species.


Anna Munster, An Aesthesia of Networks - Conjunctive Experience in Art and Technology (MIT Press, 2013), 248 pp.
ISBN 978-0-262-01895-1

Today almost every aspect of life for which data exists can be rendered as a network.  Financial data, social networks, biological ecologies:  all are visualized in links and nodes, lines connecting dots.  A network visualization of a corporate infrastructure could look remarkably similar to that of a terrorist organization.  In An Aesthesia of Networks, Anna Munster argues that this uniformity has flattened our experience of networks as active and relational processes and assemblages.  She counters the "network anaesthesia" that results from this pervasive mimesis by reinserting the question of experience, or aesthesia, into networked culture and aesthetics. 


Kimerer L. LaMothe, Why We Dance:  A Philosophy of Bodily Becoming (Columbia University Press, 2015), 304 pp.
ISBN 9780231171045

Within intellectual paradigms that privilege mind over matter, dance has long appeared as a marginal, derivative or primitive art.  Drawing support from theorists and artists who embrace matter as dynamic and agential, this book offers a definition of dance that illuminates its constitutive work in the ongoing evolution of human persons.

Why We Dance introduces a philosophy of bodily becoming that posits bodily movement as the source and telos of human life.  Within this philosophy, dance appears as an activity that humans evolved as the enabling condition of their best bodily becoming.  Weaving theoretical reflection with accounts of lived experience, this book positions dance as a catalyst in the development of human consciousness, compassion, ritual proclivity, and ecological adaptability. Aligning with trends in new materialism, affect theory, and feminist philosophy, as well as advances in dance and religious studies, this work reveals the vital role dance can play in reversing the trajectory of ecological self-destruction along which human civilization is racing.


John Roberts, Photography and Its Violations (Columbia University Press, 2014), 232 pp.
ISBN    9780231168182

Theorists critique photography for "objectifying" its subjects and manipulating appearances for the sake of art. In this counterargument, John Roberts recasts photography's violating powers of disclosure and aesthetic technique as part of a complex "social ontology" that exposes the hierarchies, divisions, and exclusions behind appearances.

The photographer must "arrive unannounced" and "get in the way of the world," Roberts argues, committing photography to the truth-claims of the spectator over the self-interests and sensitivities of the subject. Yet even though the violating capacity of the photograph results from external power relations, the photographer is still faced with an ethical choice: whether to advance photography's truth-claims on the basis of these powers or to diminish or veil these powers to protect the integrity of the subject. Photography's acts of intrusion and destabilization constantly test the photographer at the point of production, in the darkroom, and at the computer, especially in our 24-hour digital image culture. In this book, Roberts re-functions photography's place in the world, politically and theoretically restoring its reputation as a truth-producing medium.

 

Performance and Architecture, Special Issue, PAJ 109, PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, 37, 1, ed. Bonnie Marranca (MIT Press, January, 2015).
ISSN 1520-281X

PAJ explores innovative work in theatre, performance art, dance, video, writing, technology, sound, and music, bringing together all live arts in thoughtful cultural dialogue. Issues include critical essays, artists’ writings, interviews, plays, drawings, and notations, with extended coverage of performance, festivals, and books. Podcasts, video, and audio clips appear on PAJ's online home.

Performance and Architecture highlights ten design portfolios that feature installations, robotics, ecological projects, and immersive spaces. This special section of PAJ’s new issue was organized by landscape architect Cathryn Dwyre, who teaches at Pratt, and architect Chris Perry, head of graduate studies and director of the Geofutures program at Rensselaer’s School of Architecture. This special issue also includes writings on German theatre, art and civil rights in the 1960's, kidnapping as art, the Lebanese play, The Dictator, by Issam Mahfouz, and performance in the age of neoliberalism.

Visit the home page to see video clips and other issues of PAJ:  www.mitpressjournals.org/paj.


Lena Jonson, Art and Protest in Putin's Russia (Routledge, 2015), 266 pp.
ISBN 978-1-13-8844957

The Pussy Riot protest and the subsequent heavy-handed treatment of the protestors grabbed the headlines, but this was not an isolated instance of art being noticeably critical of Putin's regime.  Art and Protest shows there has been a significant counter-culture in the art world gradually emerging over recent decades.  This counter-culture satirizes and ridicules the regime and the values it represents and, at the same time, puts forward through art alternative values.  Jonson traces the development of art and protest in recent decades, discusses how art of this kind engages in political and social protest, and provides many illustrations as examples of art as protest.  The book concludes by discussing how important art has been in facilitating new social values and in prompting political protests.


Núria Perpinyà, Ruins, Nostalgia and Ugliness. Five Romantic Perceptions of the Middle Ages and a Spoonful of Game of Thrones and Avant-garde Oddity (Berlin: Logos Verlag, 2014), 119 pp.
ISBN 978-3-8325-3794-4

How many Middle Ages have there been?  Just one?  Why are there million of followers of Game of Thrones?  What is the origin of the current Gothic youth dressed in black with skulls?  Núria Perpinyà thinks that we have at least ten different perceptions of medieval period.  This book analyzes the Romantic visions of the Middle Ages and their resurrections.  The views indicate the chivalrous, religious, nationalist and fantastic aims of European Romantics.  The discourse of failure represented by ruins counterpoints the discourse of chivalry's success.  Ruins are more than the embellishment of a minor genre (the Picturesque); they are the source of contemporary ugliness and fragmentation of avant-garde.  In the 20th and 21st centuries, ruins were associated with destruction, whereas in the 18th and 19th centuries they represented melancholy.  Ruins, Nostalgia and Ugliness is a comparative research in reception aesthetics. Núria Perpinyà observes the synchronies and differences between European romantic writers by comparing them with contemporary musicians and painters, who are not determined by their nations but by their aesthetics and ideologies, whose common denominator is exaggeration. Romantic medievalism is not based on eroticism or scholasticism but on chivalry, folklore, politics, religion, mystery and populism.

Aurélien Villette, Spirit of Place (teNeues, 2015), 176 pp.
ISBN   978-3-8327-3251-6

What happens to buildings when they are no longer needed or have outlasted their original purpose?  They are either lovingly restored so they can be used for something else, or they fall into ruin, where they remain as the silent witnesses of a bygone era.  French photographer Aurélien Villette has traced these dilapidated buildings, some completely forgotten by history, and captured their beauty in color photographs.  Whether his subject is a Christian chapel, an erstwhile theater, or the events center in a former Communist country, Villette brings the spirit and pathos the place once embodied back to life.  At the same time, the ruins in his photographs are stylized to create cultural heirlooms of the various periods and countries where they are located.  The photography allows the viewer to infer various architectural influences of earlier times, making this volume a historical and cultural documentation of a former era where time stands still.

Cultural History of the Senses, ed. Constance Classen (London:  Bloomsbury, 2014), 6 volumes.  
ISBN 9780857853387

What did the past sound like, taste like, smell like?  How did it look and feel?  How did people make sense of the world through their senses?  These are questions that are increasingly capturing the interest of historians.  A Cultural History of the Senses delves into the sensory foundations of Western civilization, taking a comprehensive period-by-period approach, which provides a broad understanding of the life of the senses from antiquity to the modern day.  Each volume contains a chapter on the senses in art,  literature, media,  religion, medicine, philosophy and science, the marketplace, the city and social life generally over a span of 2500 years.

Vol. 1 A Cultural History of the Senses in Antiquity, 500 BCE-500 CE edited by Jerry Toner (University of Cambridge, UK)

Vol. 2 A Cultural History of the Senses in the Middle Ages, 500-1450 edited by Richard Newhauser (Arizone State University, USA)

Vol. 3 A Cultural History of the Senses in the Renaissance, 1450-1650 edited by Herman Roodenburg (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

Vol. 4 A Cultural History of the Senses in the Age of Enlightenment, 1650-1800 edited by Anne Vila (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA)

Vol. 5 A Cultural History of the Senses in the Age of Empire, 1800-1920 edited by Constance Classen (McGill University, Canada)

Vol. 6 A Cultural History of the Senses in the Modern Age, 1920-2000 edited by David Howes (Concordia University, Canada)

Christophe Bruchansky, Humans and their Errors (Christophe Bruchansky, 2014), 106 pp.
ISBN 978-2924285299

What remains for us if we accept the absence of any sort of truth?  We should resign ourselves to wandering and let our good will alone guide us through our lives.  If we reject reality as it reveals itself to us, history, science, and logic, on the pretext that it is erroneous, we should reject our own existence, since it is rooted in this reality.  In doing so, we would lose all taste for life.  We would not be able to experience any emotions because we would no longer believe that our feelings and observations had any importance.  It is not a quest for truth that compels us to recognize the facts, but rather the knowledge that we would not be able to survive without embracing their aesthetic.

Existence is in perpetual motion, it is a breath of air, and is made up of advances and interruptions.  However, this breath would be nothing more than mere agitation if the conscious being did not assign it a degree of aesthetic continuity; in other words, if it did not conceive of itself, as well as the surrounding reality, in a sufficiently stable and coherent fashion to enable the emergence of its conscience. Reality is, in itself, pure chaos; it comprises neither form nor order.  It is assigned these qualities by the conscious being, which is engaging in graceful action and employs great determination.  Without such qualities its existence appears baseless.         


Jos de Mul, Destiny Domesticated.  The Rebirth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Technology (SUNY Press, 2014), 358 pp.
ISBN 9781438449715

Destiny Domesticated analyzes contemporary technological society through the lens of Greek tragedy and investigates three ways Western civilization has tried to tame fate:  the heroic affirmation of fate in the tragic culture of the Greeks, the humble acceptance of divine providence in Christianity, and the abolition of fate in modern technological society. Against this background, Jos de Mul argues that the uncontrollability of technology introduces its own tragic dimension to our culture.  Considering a range of literary texts and contemporary events, and drawing on twenty-five centuries of tragedy interpretation from philosophers such as Aristotle, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Heidegger, literary critics George Steiner and Terry Eagleton, and others, de Mul articulates a contemporary perspective on the tragic, shedding new light on philosophical topics such as free will, determinism, and the contingency of life.


Daniel Yacavone, Film Worlds:  A Philosophical Aesthetics of Cinema (New York:  Columbia University Press, 2014),
311 pp.
ISBN 9780231157698

Film Worlds unpacks the significance of the "worlds" that narrative film creates, offering a new perspective on cinema as art.  Drawing on aesthetics and the philosophy of art in both the continental and analytic traditions, as well as on classical and contemporary film theory, it weaves together multiple strands of thought and analysis to provide new understandings of filmic representation, fictionality, expression, self-reflexivity, style, and the full range of cinema's affective and symbolic dimensions. 

 

Arts and Terror, edited by Vladimir L. Marchenkov (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014), 155 pp.
ISBN 978-1443841610

This book examines the manifestations of terror in the arts. From classical tragedy to post-9/11 responses, terror as an emotion, violent act, and state of the world has been a preoccupation of artists in all genres. Using philosophy, art history, film studies, interdisciplinary arts, theatre studies, and musicology, the authors included here delve into this perennially contemporary theme to produce insights articulated in a variety of idioms from traditional philosophical humanism to phenomenology to feminism. Their approaches may vary, but together they reinforce the notion that terror is a thread in the fabric of artistic expression as much as it has always been and, alas, remains a thread in the fabric of life.

 

Disagree.  A New Magazine on Arts and Society (Many Variations Publishers, 2014)

This magazine is a new proposition in the vast sea of magazines, books, papers and online platforms that unleash texts and images.  Yet this initiative has grown out of an urgency:  in times of growing populism, right-wing sentiments, conservative reflexes and the famous TINA-statement ("there is no alternative"), we need to create a multiplicity of texts that critically respond to the current landscape and look for progressive alternatives. Time to Disagree!  The Disagree. magazine is a result of the cooperation between a changing group of artists, curators, and theoreticians.  They join forces under the name of the Disagree. Art assembly.  Those who write for the Disagree. magazine automatically become part of the editing team and thus of the assembly.  The Disagree. Art assembly operates fully independently and does not receive any support for its activities from official, non-official, private, or public bodies.  You can order the first (free) issue (one or many) by writing to mv@mvpublishers.eu .  The editors of the first issue are Jeff Poak, Jean Gotthard, Harald Pogel, Nazim Besikci, Jana Tupivic, Anna Siegel

 

Anthony Lack, Martin Heidegger on Technology, Ecology, and the Arts (New York:  Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 110 pp.
ISBN 978-1137495303

This reading of Heidegger's work on technology, art, and ethics provides unique angles on specific works of modern art and architecture.  Lack begins with a discussion of Max Weber's analysis of the disenchantment of the world and proceeds to develop Heidegger's philosophy in a way that suggests a "re-enchantment" of the world that faces the modern condition squarely, without nostalgia.  The relationships between Heidegger's philosophical analyses of technology, art, and ethics are clearly articulated and connected in a framework for analyzing the modern human condition.


Raymond Tallis with Julian Spalding, Summers of Discontent:  the Purpose of Arts Today (London:  Wilmington Square Books, Dec. 2014), 192 pp.
ISBN 978-1-908524-40-9

Since the time of the ancient Greeks, philosophers have pondered on the nature and purpose of the arts, but artists have gone on making them and philosophers and audiences enjoy their work regardless of these musings.  None of their theories has met with universal or even popular acceptance.  But here is theory that places the arts—all the arts—firmly and squarely within everyone's everyday experiences. Summers of Discontent is an examination of why artists create art in the first place and why we all feel the need for art in our lives.  The author, Raymond Tallis, writes that the arts spring from our inability as humans to fully process our experiences and from our hunger for a more rounded, more complete sense of the world.  


Tonino Griffero, Atmospheres: Aesthetics of Emotional Spaces (Ashgate, 2014), 180 pp.
ISBN 978-1-4724-2172-2

Originally published in Italian in 2010, Atmospheres: Aesthetics of Emotional Spaces examines the role of atmospheres in daily life and defines their main characteristics.  Outlining the typical phenomenological situations in which we experience atmospheres, Torino Griffero assesses their impact on contemporary aesthetics.  Griffero puts forward a philosophical approach which systematizes a constellation of affects and climates, finds patterns in the emotional tones of different spaces (affordances), and assesses their impact on the felt body.  He also critically discusses the spatial turn invoked by several of the social sciences, and argues that there is a need for a non-psychologistic rethinking of the philosophy of emotions.  This book provides a history of the term 'atmosphere' and of the concepts anticipating its meaning (genius loci, aura, Stimmung, numinous, emotional design, and ambiance), and examines the main ontological characteristics of atmospheres and their principal phenomenological characteristics.

Atmospheres concludes by showing how atmospheres affect our emotions, our bodies' reactions, our state of mind and, as a result, our behavior and judgments.  Griffero assesses how atmospheres are more effective than we have been rationally willing to admit, and to what extent traditional aesthetics, unilaterally oriented towards art, has underestimated this truth.