Flows, Vortices, and Counterflows: Artification and Aesthetization in Chiasmatic Motion on a Mobius Ring
Abstract My first question is the
general orientation towards the aesthetic and artistic in our culture. Secondly, I deal with intentional and
sought-for aestheticization and artification, which are driven particularly by
art and aesthetic education. Thirdly, I
concentrate on the effects of the change on people and culture, in general, and
on art, in particular. The processes of
art and the aesthetic have their counter-movements that create tension and
dynamics. I characterize the flow
pattern as chiasmatic motion taking place on a Möbius ring. Art and the aesthetic are a pair, the parts
of which are related to each other through the question of beauty and ugliness. At times art and beauty move apart into
invisibility and at times they approach and unite and again branch and divide
into their own directions, while the internal protest movements of each
simultaneously form chiasmatic relationships.
There is neither direction nor stable motion; there are parallels and
oppositions, rotations and vortices, faster and slower, arising and vanishing.
Key Words aesthetic literacy,
anti-aesthetic, anti-art, arts and crafts, beautification, beauty, chiasm,
design, total work of art
Excess and Ascesis
(sponge), c-print, 2010
Motto I consciously strive to embrace both extremes in each work, or at least
each series of works. I want to build my
art upon the tension between these opposites.
The beautiful and the repulsive are like the two poles of a
forever-swinging pendulum, repelling each other just as occurs when the like
poles of a magnet are brought together. When
forced to collide, they create a third image that is fraught with just the kind
of conflicted tension that I want to capture in my art. Saara Ekström
inseparably linked to art; aestheticization is similarly linked to the
aesthetic and, thus, to beauty. Artification
is characterized not only by internal moves between the core areas and the margins
but also by border crossings into and out of art. Artification can comprise the change of art
into more art, even as far as pure art; the counter-movement is less art, for
example, tendency art, and the like, and impure, mixed, and everyday art.
The aesthetic area of
artification is wider than art. However,
its structure is different. It is more a
question of differences of degree and tone than of externality and internality. The aestheticization movement takes place, on
the one hand, on a scale between the beautiful and the ugly towards beauty, and
on the other hand, externally oriented from moral and other values to that
scale. Aestheticization is thus not only
a reinforcement of beauty relative to ugliness but also an emphasis of aesthetic
values relative to other values, in an extreme form of aestheticism. Aestheticization signifies an internal
intensification, corresponding to artification, into pure beauty. For its part, the counter-movement is either
uglification or a movement away from the scale of beauty and ugliness.
artification flows on a general level towards art, a trend in which the
characteristics of art are strengthened up to a conversion into art. It is a cultural phenomenon. Active, intended artification is intentional
and determined, as is the planned education, teaching, counseling, and
research work supporting this. It can be
located and is visible. In the aesthetic,
there are the same passive and active sides: on the one hand, conscious promotion;
on the other, a taking place by itself.
Contemporary art has
at the same time as everyday life has been aestheticized, at least on the
Negative values in art correspond to negative values in the environment. Passive beautification and active
beautification also have their counter-flows.
These can be an attack against superficially understood beauty, with the
intention of demonstrating that beauty is, above all, a value to be taken
seriously, or of emphasizing that aesthetic values are more diverse and that
beauty is one of them, and not necessarily the dominant one. They can also be programmatic vandalism or
brutalism, the impulse for which has come from anti-artistic or anti-aesthetic
phenomena. The goal of the artification
of the everyday is not so much making something into art as using the resources
of art to increase aesthetic quality.
The impulse to artification can equally come from outside, when art shows
itself as a goal and artification as an intermediate stage.
My article is divided
into two main parts. First I consider artification
and then aestheticization, both of them in active and passive forms. In the unifying last portion, I question
their connection and differentiation; both occur. I seek to demonstrate that artification is
developing into a more independent phenomenon with a wider intermediate field. That which has already become art is on one
side, that which can potentially be artified is on the other. That which is artified is made by an artifier,
whose fields include handcrafts, industrial design, fashion design, and
building. The three areas, art, the
artified, and the rest of reality, live in parallel to each other, in
interaction. The intermediate area
referred to as the “applied arts” is divided into sub-areas that, in turn,
reinforce their own special natures. In
part, this is literally a question of the application of art, that is, the use
of the means of art for the shaping and creation of reality. And, in part it is simply the meeting of the
needs of practical life in an aesthetically satisfactory manner, so that it
would be clearer to speak of aestheticization. Artification and
aestheticization meet in the territory of everyday aesthetics.
orientation towards negative aesthetic values, such as the ugly, startling,
cruel, frightening, unpleasant, and shocking instead of positive values, takes
its place as an internal counter-movement to aestheticization.
The negative counterpart can be used to promote goals that are, as such, seen
as positive, but recourse to it is also one kind of protest and provocation in
an underground spirit.
A more uncompromising
form of de-aestheticization arises from the emphasis on other values. Indirectly,
it represents the disparagement or direct rejection of aesthetic values, both
positive and negative. Thus the
counter-movement to aestheticization or being aestheticized comes mainly from
external pressure and the supremacy of other value areas. This leads to the marginalization and
withering of the aesthetic value area. The
pressure can be either intentional or can arise, for example, from a belief in
the ineluctability of economic values.
a. the boundary of art and crossings of
Boundary crossings, metamorphoses,
and disappearances are not a matter of dramatic pictures of the future as much
as a second coming, a death, or a move to a state of anarchy. The question is applicable even to emphatically
everyday movements, jolts, and strains.
Why and when is it
important to know the boundary of art? The boundary dissolves as marginal
phenomena increase, but classification is required to show an appropriate
context for interpretation. The
important thing is to know or decide the category as a member of which
something is examined.
In practice, drawing an art-philosophical boundary affects support systems,
memberships in associations and clubs, museums’ exhibition activities,
educational institutions’ programs, research funding, art administration, and
the media. When genres that are still
seeking a form appear in the territories of old genres, defense starts as a
fear for occupations.
Artification is a flow,
a trend, that occurs for different reasons and takes many forms. It is a general, goal-oriented activity that
has an author but remains mostly anonymous.
Why does artification take place? Is the result a work of art or
something like a work of art? What happens to something that is artified? If
nothing else, at least the manner of examination changes: depiction, interpretation, and evaluation become
primary. The guarding of the boundary of
principle between fact and fiction becomes more alert, if boundary lines are
crossed, for example, by random art and pop-up
architecture. The bond between art
and the aesthetic is formed by art having, in a traditional view, an aesthetic
core. Art has acted as a means of defining
and expressing the aesthetic; its aesthetic character is derived by circular
reasoning from the nature of art, so that the artistic has also been aesthetic
and the aesthetic artistic. For a
century now, this union has been neither absolute nor valid.
On the boundary between
art and reality, between the fictive and the real, a varied group of activities
has formed that exploits the means of art and artists. They do not even seek to be art, or else
directly deny association with it. Precisely
in this way, a system arises to form a craftsworld,
within which there are then part- and sub-worlds. The closeness of art and craft is illustrated
by the fact that the English word art does
not by itself make a distinction.
phenomena of the intermediate area, certainly aesthetic but not normally art, are
objects and material culture with all their appurtenances, ceremonies like weddings,
funerals, and church services, popular festivals with fireworks and parades,
trade fairs, exhibitions, and sports competitions. An artist who enters the intermediate area
does not make art and may even deny the artistic nature of his or her creations,
even though professional skills and means are used. The art-like boundary neighbor thus formed
then affects art directly or indirectly.
The question is not of everyday activities, like child-care, shopping,
hobbies, or family time, that do not belong to the artist’s role activities but
of work that demands professional know-how but doesn't aim to create art. Artification is then not made for art’s sake
but instead for producing something aesthetically significant, yet nevertheless
requiring the professional skill of an artist.
Making this does not come closer to art with the intention of merging
with it but, on the contrary, distances itself from art by creating or
reinforcing a parallel system.
The effect on art is
indirect. The more easily approachable
intermediate area takes attention and audience from art the more it
unintentionally drives art to the margin, to become an avant-garde remaining
distant and hermetically sealed, ever farther from the general public. The smallness of the audience for
experimental exhibitions, theater, and other art, even a direct loss of
audience, compared to classical performances, is revealing. The vanguard of contemporary art has
alienated art from the majority of the art public, or else people arrive at the
venue curious and hungry for sensation, to be amazed, to be horrified, and to
b. the eight meanings of
I distinguish eight
forms and ways of how a change into art or simply a development in the
direction of art (or a distancing from art, de-artification) take place. In all of these, there is an active
(intentional) and a passive (unintentional) form. The passive means a general trend, fashion,
or development line in culture. The active
is conscious, goal-oriented activity and influences up-bringing, control, teaching, education, and
counselling, though it also includes sanctions, prohibitions, and commands.
Artification 1: a drawing towards art and the counter-movement, fleeing
There is a seeking
towards art, but there is also a search away from and out of art and the
aesthetic. Anti-art is still art, although it is already on the
boundary. In terms of art theory, it is
a special form of conscious art; anti-art is different from non-art, which is
over the boundary but from which art, and particularly anti-art, occupies new
areas in order to artify them.
I use the term “chiasmatic
motion” to refer to opposing currents: a
search by actual art and professional artists for the margin, and a testing of how
impassable the boundary is. Simultaneously,
a movement is directed from outside and the boundary zone towards the historical
and museum-like, classic, central area. Artification,
in the sense of a metamorphosis, is the latter, a movement towards art and from
there towards an envisaged, imagined core.
A flight from art, on the other hand, is a seeking for the boundary zone
as programmatic anti-art or avant-garde art, as far as a crossing of the
boundary line and a breaking of the link to art. A Möbius band or ring illustrates an unnoticed
movement to the other side; however, there is only one surface. Art that flees into itself and denies its identity
is, in practice, an impossibility; it can destroy itself only by ending all its
activities, by dying naturally or by its own hand.
Artification 2: from the margin towards the center
A general trend in art
culture is a reinforcement of marginal genres and then their relative movement
towards the center to the traditional core or to form new cores, such as circus
art, with the Cirque du Soleil at the
peak. Temporary forms, like light and
food art, and also parkour and ice dancing,
which move on the boundaries of sport, either change into actual art forms by
losing their marginal characters or fall out of fashion to be consigned to
temporary forms. As in the case of
figure skating, these can also begin to emphasize their skill aspects and
distance themselves from art.
Fashion design and
industrial design have a strong tendency towards art; shops are galleries down
to their names, while art museums display design. The Guggenheim in New York organized an extensive exhibition
of Giorgio Armani’s fashion design. In
architecture, building art’s belonging to the sphere of art is reinforced. The creations of star architects are unique
works with names, from which an oeuvre is constructed with rises and falls.
Artification 3: the growth of art-like-ness
Features that are
regarded as being art-like are reinforced in non-art; means known from art are
used, for example, in nature and other documentary films, such as Onkalo/Into Eternity, which is a documentary
concerning the final disposal site of nuclear waste in Finland.
The world changes or is changed into a story; the narrative character becomes a
way of seeing. The art boundary is
reached and crossed in docu-drama and reality art.
A narrative is created,
when, for instance, animals are turned into thinking and goal-oriented actors
and their lives are seen as a nearly unbroken survival drama. At more peaceful moments, animals build
architecture that can even act as a model for humans. Even natural phenomena are personalized and
are seen as having intentions and bursts of emotion. The Katrina hurricane destroyed most of New Orleans.
Artification 4: metaphorical art
Metaphorical art, which
is seen as though it is art but is not regarded or classified as art, is
becoming widespread. Art begins to act
as a viewpoint to matters and objects, in which case something to which
attention would otherwise not be paid can be seen in the object. Respecting and valuing art are a background
power, particularly in the art-colored talk characteristic of nature depictions. Art is the valuable point of comparison. There is a paradox in the fact that
examination models for and objects for comparison with nature, which is always
regarded as valuable, are sought from the cultural environment, the world of
objects, and the media. “The sky above the port was the color of
television, tuned to a dead channel,” begins William Gibson’s science-fiction
In the consciousness of
the general public, an aesthetic ideal is still expected from art; therefore,
contemporary art is quickly labelled as scandal-seeking, elitist, and lacking
content. Traditional art is an object of
comparison and a model of thought in nature literature, for example, even
though contemporary environmental art would offer closer links. Art-like creativity and inventiveness are
seen in the entire process of making. Thus,
art is not only finished works but also processes, acts.
Art-talk and practices
specific to art are becoming common outside of art. Criticism takes over new areas and has
created, for example, car, restaurant, and food critics, so that it could also
be considered whether representatives of these sectors should be admitted to
associations founded and controlled by art critics. The depiction, interpretation, and evaluation
of objects take place using a language familiar from art: the structure of
criticism is the same irrespective of the object.
Artification 5: the construction of art-like institutions
Artification and aestheticization appear much deeper and
broader than as transformations in our ways of seeing and handling the objects
and our manners of speaking of them.
They also appear in the formation of supporting institutions. Artification involves such a development of structures. Artified objects need a
supporting institution around them just as works of art need a supporting art
institution around them (such as an art circle) that is conceptual and often
material, too. The widest is the conceptual environmental institution
with its actual applications, which appears as a mirror image of the art
institution or art circle.
Systems become not only
artified but also aestheticized. They
have in common a three-component basic structure and role operation taking
place within its framework, from the maker through intermediaries to the
receiver. Art and other activities are
seen as acts of this triad. Part and
sub-institutions are built, and operating models arise. The environmental institution operates as the
partner of the art institution. It has
only to be found and seen; once seen, it is particularized and further refined
to become more fine-grained.
From a concentration on
objects, we move to co-operation models, networks, and symbioses: our images of mutual co-operation between humankind
and nature, machines and humankind. In
social aesthetics, the product vanishes out of the way of activity; the
activity, not the result, becomes primary.
Artification 6: art as effective means, decoration, and accent
Art remains art but
receives instrumental tasks in new contexts, for example, as an
interior-decoration element or an improver and enlivener of public accommodation. The use situation and environment then
determine what kind of art can be used in what context and what kind of art
will be produced for it.
Art and the means
developed in it act as aids, for example, in museum architecture and in the
dramatization of exhibitions. Art was
exploited in this way in the Shanghai
Expo 2010 exhibition in a section
that followed the everyday life of six families in different parts of the world.
Hospitals, schools, and public offices
are enlivened with art, works of art are placed in public indoor and outdoor
spaces to make them more pleasant. Art
is used as a stimuli for the shaping of outdoor locations and as an aid to
presentation. A part of art returns
openly to serve educational, financial, communicational, and ideological
purposes. Advertisements act like art if
they are viewed conscious of the fact that they are not art. Part of art is broken off to form everyday
art, which approaches applied art.
Important things are
marked and emphasized with the aid of art.
Art is an accent, a peak, sometimes like
an ornament. When creating a symbiosis
of the environment and art, the environmental artist artifies the immediate
area of his or her work.
The task even of fields in the landscape
is not to produce food but to diversify and enliven the milieu, the landscape
Environmental-art monuments, like the Berlin
memorial to Holocaust victims, are given large forms.
Artification 7: art chauvinism
The worlds of art begin
to compete with reality. The bond with
reality is reinforced when the area of art expands to overlap and color the
real world. This pushes the viewer too far
into extreme art chauvinism, into activity that approves art’s upper hand. Excesses are not in the interest of art
itself. If there is too much art in too
many places, its identity becomes vague.
Understanding the world begins to take place on art’s conditions through
submission to art. Even the fact that
the external is seen as non-art means seeing it in relation to art. The opposite takes place when art expands by
building alternative realities, when the only obstacles are those set by the
imagination. Significance then becomes a
widening of our mental elbowroom. The
building of a fictive space, the creation of another reality, does not take
away from anything.
Does the artified area
then remain to form a buffer zone that protects the peace and independence of
actual art to be freely that which it is? An increasingly independent sphere of phenomena
is thus forming and growing parallel to art, that is related to art but has,
however, a different identity. Would it
be possible to speak of a media-cultural intermediate area as a non-art and of
those maintaining it as non-artists and non-critics, and so on? In Finland,
non-writers have been referred to in this way, writers who certainly write but
not necessarily books. Rather, they maintain
their status and public ego as media personalities in columns and public
Artification 8: a total work (of art)
Advertising language has
turned the BeoVision 10 flat-screen (almost)
into a painting. In the brochure it is
shown as a picture on a wall among other pictures. When closed, the television is Kazimir
Malevich’s Black Square; when opened
it becomes an electronic, living painting. In advertisements, the Avanti-car, originally designed by Raymond Loewy, appears in the
middle of the paintings in an art museum.
A minimalist-design Movado
wristwatch is advertised as a museum watch because it has been acquired for the
permanent collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Alessi’s domestic appliances or furniture by Eero
Aarnio are humorously representational; they use the shapes of living beings to
express human properties and emotions.
These are self-evidently
material that belongs to design shops and design museums but have also found a
place in actual art museums. Products
are marketed and sold using the designer’s name. The products themselves have a brand name or
a title, like a work of art. The emphasis
on this name or title comes from the practices of art. Leading brand goods combine high technical
quality and innovative design. The goal
of the designer and manufacturer is not design for design’s sake but to reconcile
different values, with practical value being the most important of these. Successful designing produces beauty in both
the narrow sense of the outer shell and the wide sense of successfully reaching
general goals. Aesthetic value is
realized on an upper level, too, in the optimization of the proportions of
different values. Economy is not and
cannot be justified by the purchase price but by durability, timelessness, and
technical progress. Aesthetic matters
are the basis of coming close to art: the best of design is picked to be art, thus
following an honorific and not a classificatory line of definition.
These total works of art
come in different sizes, ranging from individual design objects to buildings like
the Villa Mairea at Noormarkku in Finland and the Schröder House by Gerritt
Rietveld in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Such works extend from cities, like Brasilia by Oscar Niemeyer and utopian
communities to conceptual works, such as the world as a global work of art,
to say nothing of Bruno Taut’s conceptual landscape architecture, which extends
from the shaping of the peak of the Matterhorn to arrangements of galaxies.
All the most significant
changes do not take place in the world of objects and beings. Some arise in viewers, as when they begin to
see objects through art, or something as an alternative. ”Seeing-as” is also its own kind of
classification and expansion, such as commending an object by comparing it with
art. This way of seeing extends farthest
when, in the final resort, everything is seen in relation to everything, as one.
seeing means understanding and comprehending, no longer the operation of the
eyes and the sense of sight. “Don’t you
see?” Beauty and the aesthetic then
receive a strong intellectual flavor. Thus
nature and the environment, and even human life, are experienced as art, as a system,
and a dynamic arrangement. The life of
an individual person but also of a building becomes a work that has a dramatic
life cycle. This is the idea of the
total work of art, Gesamtkunstwerk.
One large work of art is created that contains many separate ones; larger
entities are formed from sub-totalities.
A world of objects is built from objects and space. Correspondingly, one progresses from the
individual to groups, to families, peoples, and finally to humanity and the
human relations prevailing in them, that
is, to social aesthetics.
3. Aestheticization and beautification
Aestheticization links to the tradition of the
philosophy of beauty and is therefore independent of art and of art philosophy. However, connections and overlappings arise
from the fact that art fosters and realizes aesthetic values and produces
corresponding pleasure. Art, too, is
aestheticized or de-aestheticized. Traditionally,
art has been an area for the free testing and realization of values. The values of beauty reinforce their position
relative to other values. Aestheticization
is a cultural trend that can be supported as long as values are taken into
account in equilibrium without becoming aestheticism. The aim is a good life, a totality in which
aesthetic values have their own appropriate place. However, this does not exclude pure art, art for art’s sake type of art.
meant the strengthening of aesthetic activity and an aesthetic manner of examination
in nature and culture. In terms of positive
aesthetics, nature in a natural state is, as such, a subject for honorific
examination. The cultural environment is
made, built. It is something in which aesthetic
goals are included but whose success depends on skills or chance. Humankind is responsible for realizing its
value goals within ecologically acceptable limits.
Aestheticization has both
a superficial and a profound significance.
The surface is a shell and covering, an exterior. The actual content is under the surface. These, the formal and the content aspects,
can be separated conceptually, although they unavoidably appear together and as
a combination. The content is
intellectual beauty, the elegance of scientific theories, the beauty of a harmonious
life, and the welfare of humankind and nature.
often understood as a movement from profound questions towards the surface. Superficialization is regarded as negative
and is associated with ideas of disguise and deception. Things like cosmetics, hairstyles, perfumes,
and bodybuilding are regarded with suspicion.
However, the surface, too, is significant. In an ideal case, the surface and profound
levels are in harmony but in practice there are often tensions between them. We suspect that the outer shell leads us
Sometimes, even often,
aestheticization is understood as the admiration of morally reprehensible or
otherwise questionable phenomena. Such
are violence and war, for example, as well as religious and political agitation. It is also seen as negative if some basic
need, such as food or behavior and table manners, are excessively aestheticized. Aesthetic values then seem to become
something for the fine regulation of which only a welfare society has the time
and money. On the other hand, genres
with intrinsic values, such as Japanese ikebana,
flower arrangement, or growing a bonsai
tree, are traditional and valued forms of aesthetic culture: the great in the small.
sub-form of aestheticization, is interpreted as being positive but cosmetic. It is done in everyday activities, such as small
improvements to the environment like picking up trash and decorative planting. The means and goals are within the reach of
ordinary people and the renovations are visible, concrete, and affect mood by
evoking a sense of pleasantness and welfare.
However, beautification has a tendency to encourage kitsch-like
Beautification has a
superficial and a deep level. In this,
there is the difference between sensory perception and comprehension. Each produces an aesthetic experience separately,
but only together do they become whole. Reference
is made particularly to aesthetic welfare and its obverse, illfare. The need to develop one’s own physical nature
and cosmetic appearance has recourse to aesthetic surgery or dieting, for
example, even though in the eyes of others there may be no need. Obvious distortions of beautification occur
in breeding pets with a regard purely for appearance, copying the beauty of
models, and preventing normal growth and forcing it into unnatural shapes.
The entire aesthetic culture
may be distorted. Yu Kongjian, a
contemorary Chinese landscape architect, sees the modern form of the ideal of
small-footedness and the binding of feet, which was part of his culture, in the
forcing of nature into forms that are foreign to it. The roles have changed: what was valued has become rejected and the
rejected has become desirable. Aesthetic
civility and wisdom have received a new significance reinforced by ecological
thought. Natural “big-footedness,”
unforced nature, is now an ecologically justified ideal. Eco-aesthetics has this deeper meaning and
In developing “rational Buddhism,”
Wolfgang Welsch also aims at this level above humankind, away from
The creation of beauty
is both physical and abstract. The
physical is, for example, the altering of the environment; the abstract is
concentrated examination. Criticism helps by offering interpretations and forms
of examination. Aestheticization is a
question of degrees of difference, of tones, not of giving status in the same
way as in art, even though reference is made to aesthetic objects. Every object becomes potentially aesthetic
when it is taken as a subject of such examination. All human and perhaps even animal activity possesses
an intentional or unintentional aesthetic aspect. Its protection, maintenance, and development
have their significance as reinforcers of this aspect.
Culture as such, even aesthetic
culture, is a value-neutral term. Cultures
are systems whose existence is not a value in itself. After all, there are both ecologically
durable and self-destructive cultures. Aesthetic
environmental culture means an individual person’s or group’s way of arranging its
relationship with the environment in terms of beauty. Aesthetic environmental civility, unlike aesthetic culture, is a value term. Civility is engaging in activity by taking
other people and nature into account. The
first step is aesthetic literacy. In the best case, it is possible to speak of
environmental wisdom. A civilizing project is formed from aesthetic
education. It supports aestheticization understood
as positive. Ultimately, the aim is a
fully examined good life in which values are in equilibrium, in harmony. Such an equilibrium can be understood as aesthetic,
as “super beauty.”
Artified and aestheticized
a. the development of an intermediate
Only a part of design,
dressing, building, interior design, handcrafts, and many other activities is
located on the side of art. The
professionals in such fields, designers and manufacturers, are not normally regarded
as artists but they have the same creative thinking and problem-solving ability. Artists have the skill to utilize and apply
their training and personal views to these needs that these activities fulfill. However, it is more usually a question of
professionals specializing in sub-areas, some of whom, because of the nature
and merit of their works, then move to the art side. When beginning to work as a designer, an
artist is in the position of an enlightened layman. The actual skill and contribution lie in
innovative activity with the nature of basic research, on the basis of which
innovative development and application are then made and continued by other
The aesthetic is located
in the same field of value as the ethical, the practical, the economical, the
safe, and the healthy. Its narrower
significance lies in this series; the wider and deeper significance is a property
(the super-aesthetic) of the totality formed by the various values together. Constructive joint activity takes place
between the values but they also struggle mutually for space, supremacy, and
autocracy. Sometimes the struggle
weakens and sometimes strengthens the position of aesthetic values in relation
to the rest of the value world. Any
disturbance whatever in the constellation is aesthetically significant.
The counter-movement can
be an anti-aesthetic reaction coming from aesthetics’ own field. Barry Katz created the crude rawphisticated as a counterpart of the
refined sophisticated. An example is a manipulated image of a cell-phone,
the rough, wrinkled, lower part of which merges into a polished and highly
finished upper part. The writer seeks a
justification for the imperfection (“a deliberately unfinished finish”) from
No orange is a perfect sphere; no tree grows in
a perfectly straight line. Why then do
we seek perfection in our lives and in our objects?
Katz concluded that it is precisely ”errors,”
deviations from perfect forms, that make objects individual and variable.
The rawphisticated phone plays with the real
world of being and becoming and refuses to privilege either the unfinished or
the perfected state. It comes out of
your pocket dog-eared and wrinkled, like a business card would, or rough and
chiseled, revealing the hand of the sculptor.
The loss of beauty is not a question of
programmatic alternatives but of changes in the hierarchy of the various value
areas and thus not the direct opposition of some part. If one gains the upper hand, it may lead to
the marginalization of others and thus act against them. Opposition may also be a programmatic
belittling of other values. The
aesthetic itself is guilty of this when promoting aestheticism. More commonly, however, it finds itself
subordinated to financial or other values.
b. the development of structures, institutionalization
The entire artification
and aestheticization process can be seen through the institutional theory. The art institution has become established
and analyzed. It is attacked, more
mildly, by unconventional works and, more seriously, by breaking structures. The philosophical basic outline remains
clear; maker – work – receiver
together with organizations and the theory holding this structure together. A corresponding structure, which I have
called the environmental institution, can be seen in the environment. It exists on the level of hidden activity, consciously
unperceived and unconceptualized.
I see the art institution
and the environmental institution – these two aesthetic systems and cultures – as
a pair that perceives and covers aesthetic culture in its entirety. Of course, part- and sub-cultures, and the
structures holding them together, can be distinguished within each side. Important part-cultures of the intermediate
area are the applied arts (arts and
crafts) and the world of skill, the craftsworld,
formed around them. When an art form
arises, much more than individual works arise: authors, networks of intermediaries (critics,
researchers, and educators), and receivers, occupations, and institutes concentrating
on it are formed. These maintain
journals and other publications, research, and teaching.
Institutionalization is developing
in contemporary folk art, too. It is
becoming a shadow institution that appears to be turning into one form of
normal art. Makers are referred to as
artists, exhibitions are arranged, publications are made, research is initiated,
and theoretical frameworks and formal structures are outlined.
Wild activity, such as painting
graffiti, is reconciled to become one part-area of the field of art. It is artified into an actual art through an
intermediate state. Graffiti, street
art, and reality art have travelled the road leading to art. The same road has been travelled by
environmental art, the material of which is the real environment into and from
which the works are made. As large-scale
”installations,” these then form an artified environment. A corresponding “institutionalization” has occurred
in relation to nature in a natural state through environmental criticism, though
generally only attaining a metaphorical, not a literal art. In essays, photographs, and documents,
depicters of nature divide, delimit, collect, and articulate nature into works.
What happens as
artification takes place as a parallel, partly interactive aestheticization. An adopted aesthetic viewpoint aestheticizes
the most diverse phenomena, and aestheticization creates conceptual and formal
structures and fields of activity, such as aesthetic education. The structures also discharge and dissipate
under the pressure of programmatic counter-movements. Some objects only become unfashionable,
remain little used, and are forgotten, even though they can always be returned
to public attention.
active and activated public
The maker-side’s partner
is the public, the receiver. Artification
and aestheticization also take place due to the public. Ultimately, this is what determines the viewpoint
and the manner of examination. Such a
viewpoint can, in principle, be selected for anything at all, though it’s
always worth asking how rewarding it will be at any particular time and whether
it will do justice to the object. The
viewpoint brings up the issue of beauty as the center of attention, and in that
sense aestheticizes what is being examined, at least for a moment. Sometimes an object is already artified or
aestheticized in the design and making stage.
Sometimes its examination as art or as a beautiful thing and the
accompanying metaphorical art discussion and aesthetic terminology already lead
to a change. The cultural atmosphere at
times favors a specific form of examination and at other times it does not favor
that form. That atmosphere encourages, does not encourage,
or directly rejects it. Thus, an
individual is in the sphere of influence and control of a culture’s attitude
In a culture favorable
to aesthetic and artistic values, objects are made, altered, protected, cared
for, and maintained according to specific expectations. Through their choices and emphases, the
observers act as a creative and critical party and then assume at least part of
the maker’s role. A positive atmosphere
and the models that are available encourage and lead to this. Thus, the observers color the object and, through
their speech, propose their own choices and emphases to others, too.
Classification as art
takes place from the art institution, not from outside. Art cannot separate itself from the art world
other than by destroying the structures supporting its world, but the artist can
step over to the non-art side, either professionally by moving to external
areas of application, or by returning from the artist role to ”civilian,” everyday
life. The outsiders cannot, by speech,
simply by saying, make art; they make it only in a metaphorical sense in order
to praise and value the object, and sometimes the exact opposite, to label it
as artificial, affected, or false.
Literal artification has
an effect on the metaphorical. Even new
forms of art, like environmental art, lead one to see and treat the environment
and its objects like art, both generally and specifically: a view from a window as a video work; the aurora borealis as light art; a road and
roadside views as road art; or, more traditionally, rock cuttings as sculpture
and the cycle of the seasons as a drama.
Reality art has created preconditions for random art. The change in art is reflected as a
corresponding expansion or contraction of the metaphorical area; the
illustrative is literally a mirror image or a shadow.
Thinking as art leads to
an art-like interpretation of reality. Does
artification then make reality less real? Fiction has its own, other reality. Its value is in the expansion and enriching
of reality through the force of creative imagination. The food cupboard door in the painting in Paavo
Rintala’s artist novel Jumala on kauneus (God
is Beauty; in Finnish, 1959) is
not just any door whatever: “It opens
into the world of beauty, where the beautiful is. From where beauty flows into the log cabin
Fiction may also entice and mislead into
a life in an imaginary reality, or a fairy tale, or fantasy. Correspondingly, its characters can be seen
in real people and events. It is in
virtual reality that the border crossings go farthest.
From the point of view
of science, life that relies on untenable interpretations, such as by taking mythological
concepts of reality literally, may be seen in regarding omens and illusions as
real. In the film A Beautiful Mind, the principal character experiences his
hallucinations, such as his conversation companions who appear out of nowhere, as
real, but knows that they are illusions and learns to relate to them as such
and to live with them.
5. Conclusion: views
civility, and wisdom are linked together, in this order, in a rising line. I predict that
divergence rather than merging will be the most likely direction of the
development of the mutual relationship of actual art and the everyday, that is,
applied art and that which is artified. Like
science, art is becoming increasingly specialized. The avant-garde distances itself from both
the traditional core areas and the art-colored intermediate forms, too, but in
doing so it closes itself off, beyond the reach of only a few professionals. The situation is undesirable but unavoidable,
quite as impossible to change as to show a layman a shortcut to the cutting
edge of science.
Above all, artification
supports the reinforcement of the intermediate area; it need not directly
affect art itself. The effect takes place
indirectly, by the art-colored intermediate area taking up space and attention, possibly even resources,
from art itself, and thus affecting art negatively as its area narrows. The artified begins to meet the needs that
art has served. A new speciality of
conceptual application arises, the theory and practice of which is created by
artistic research, and the “publications” of which are material works. In order to create these, product design,
milieu building, and landscape care arise.
The basic separation of
the artified and aestheticized from art has, in fact, taken place already in
the applied arts ages ago. Artification
and its parallel, scientification, combine in the applied sciences and arts. The joint sectors are, among others, fashion
and product design, interior design, advertising, couture, food, politics,
country images, branding, tourist destinations, and sport.
with scientification, is a concept and term characterizing and collecting this
area, but it is also a phenomenon seizing territory, whose dynamism is
emphasized by the process view of the terms.
Artisans, artists, and others work in the applied area. For a wider meaning, titles like artificer derived from art, and artifier derived from artification have
been developed. The intermediate area is
not only and no longer the application of art but it is a field of various
specialities in which different professional groups can show their skills and
competences. The work is mainly group work
into which individual performances merge.
Applications are expanding to ideas and ideals: to advertising agencies’
campaigns for political parties, churches, and charities. Wordplay, the twisting of phrases and
sayings, and the borrowing and theft of ideas come in the first stage, in place
of serious discussion and ideals. The
models are the allusions, ambiguities, and original solutions valued on the art
intermediate form will become more general and generally more important. Creativity means an aesthetic problem
solution, taking other values into account.
Thus, the point of departure is not only art but also, at least as much,
the aesthetic value area and the aesthetic activities of everyday life. When art and the aesthetic meet as providers
of influences, a new emergent, which cannot be returned to either side, forms
as the intermediate area. Aestheticization
and artification are similar in that they represent an increase in the
phenomena of the intermediate area and in a move towards it. Thus, the aesthetic features of the rest of
reality remaining, at least for the time being outside these developments, also
begin to be reinforced.
on art are of at least two kinds. The
positive is the production of new kinds of works and genres, which are transfers
from the intermediate area. The negative,
even threatening effect, is in taking over of the sector from art and marginalizing
art into its own avant-garde.
Art, for its part, affects
artification by serving as a means for its non-artistic uses. It also develops an artist’s standby
profession, which has been reinforced recently through community-art projects,
among other things. The aim in this is not so much the works as it is the group
spirit and joint responsibility, perhaps even the common taste, developed in
In the precursor mode, active
aestheticization and passive aesthetization both mean cosmetic beautification
and, in a more refined form, programmatic aestheticism, which, taking into
account the totality of life values, is provocatively superficial and, being
one-sided, negative. Secondly, in a
deeper sense, the tendency to aestheticization raises a question of the defense
of aesthetic values in a value system and a search for an optimal state in it,
in the name of aesthetic and other welfare.
Thirdly, it is a question of education and an introduction to aesthetic
literacy, civility, and wisdom – to an aesthetic life.
The fictive world is a
parallel world, a space of unlimited growth.
Art can expand in its direction without obstacles. On the other hand, art’s expansion in the
real world and in culture can be seen as a question of the equilibrium of a
system of values and, therefore, as dependent.
“Reality art” must adapt to the
system of life values; dependent art cannot expand over its dimensions. The ideal is not to change everything into
art any more than it is to aestheticize everything.
An overemphasis on the
aesthetic means a distortion, aestheticism.
Underestimation, on the other hand, leads to atrophy and the disappearance
of the field, an impoverishment of the richness of human life. The optimal ratios of the values must be
found, and a dynamic equilibrium among them.
In it is a second, abstract level of aestheticality. The aesthetic is one value among others but
also a critical factor characterizing and evaluating the whole system of values. In this sense, I have spoken of beauty in two
forms, one as a specific value type among others, but also as all-encompassing
and all-coloring, as a property characterizing the outline of the totality, as
Art and the aesthetic
are not necessarily connected to each other or to reality. Even fictional realities and their parts have
both aesthetic and other properties. They
can all be studied and spoken of just as much as the properties of the real
world. The philosopher Jaakko Hintikka
sees a parallel between reading fiction and studying reality: ”Reading is but a series of
tacit questions put to the text in analogy with scientific observations
conceived of as questions put to one’s perceptible environment.”
When art and the aesthetic
act as parts of actual reality, both are within the sphere of similar limits
set by life values. Crossing the limits
is, on the one hand, dynamic development and the opening of new views, and on
the other, going on the side of bad taste and improper behavior, and, in an
extreme form, an insult to and crime against humanity. The positive and negative possibilities are
always present, and it is not always clear which is which.
Yrjö Sepänmaa is
Professor of Environmental Aesthetics in the University of Eastern
Finland, Joensuu. He has published a book on environmental aesthetics, The Beauty of Environment (1986, 2nd ed. 1993), and numerous articles on different
topics in aesthetics, from outsider art and anti-art to philosophy of
literature and artists’ book. His recent
research interests include the theory and practice of applied environmental
aesthetics, and a new project plan for environmental civility.
Published on April 5, 2012.
 Saara Ekström,
“It’s the emotional response that counts...” Saara Ekström
interviewed by Timo Valjakka, in Limbus:
Saara Ekström. Kiasma 14/1 – 13/03
2011 / Kuntsi 02/04 – 22/05 2011. Catalog. Edited by Leevi Haapala. (Helsinki: Museum of Contemporary
Art, 2011), pp. 20–22; ref. on p. 21.
 George Dickie, “What is Anti-Art?” The
Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 33: 4 (Summer 1975), 419-421.
 Bohdan Dziemidok, “Aestheticization of Everyday Life
and De-aestheticization of Art: The Problem of Fulfilment of Aesthetic Needs in
Postmodern Culture,” in Real World Design. The Foundation and Practice of Environmental
Aesthetics. XIII International Congress
of Aesthetics, Lahti, Finland,
August 1–5, 1995. Proceedings II,
ed. by Yrjö Sepänmaa (Helsinki:
University of Helsinki, Lahti Research and Training Centre, 1997), pp. 126–131; ref. on p. 129.
 Monroe C.
Beardsley, “Aesthetic Welfare,” The
Journal of Aesthetic Education, 4, 4 (October 1970); 9–20.
Wallis, “The Changes in Art and the Changes in Aesthetics,” in Proceedings of the VIIth International
Congress of Aesthetics. Bucarest, 28
Aout–2 Septembre, 1972, Vol. I
(Bucuresti: Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste Romania),
Walton, “Categories of Art,” Philosophical
Review,79:3 (1970), 334–367.
Gibson, Neuromancer (New York:
Ace Books, 2000); ref. on p. 3. (First
 George Dickie,
The Art Circle:
A Theory of Art. (New York: Haven
 Yrjö Sepänmaa,
“The Two Aesthetic Cultures: The Great Analogy of Art and the Environment,” in Environment and the Arts: Perspectives on
Environmental Aesthetics, ed. by Arnold Berleant (Surrey,
Ashgate Publishing, 2002), pp. 39–46.
Pavilion: Overall Human Development is a Prerequisite for Sustainable
Development of Cities,” in EXPO 2010
Shanghai China Official Album (Shanghai:
Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination & China Publishing Group
Corporation, 2010), p. 6.
Dissanayake, “In the Beginning: Pleistocene and Infant Aesthetics and
Twenty-First Century Education in the Arts,” in International Handbook of Research in Arts Education, vol. 2, ed.
by Liora Bressler (2007), pp. 783–98, ref. on p. 12.
 Dale Chihuly, Icicles–the Icicle Creek Chandelier,
an outdoor glass installation at Sleeping Lady Retreat and Conference Center in
Leavenworth, Washington (Seattle: Portland Press, 1998).
Ruhr, Feldstudien, Zur neuen Ästhetik
urbaner Landwirtschaft. Field Studies:
The New Aesthetics of Urban Agriculture.
Mit einem Vorwort von / With a Foreword by Udo Weilacher. Mit Fotographien von / With Photographs by Peter Liedtke. (Basel:
Fröhlich, “Global Aesthetics: Life on Earth as Art” (summary), in Achter Internationaler Kongress für
1976: Die Ästhetik, das tägliche Leben und die Künste. Résumes / Summaries / Zusammenfassungen. 30.
August bis 3. September 1976 (Darmstadt, 1976).
Glass Architecture by Bruno Taut and Alpine
Architecture by Bruno Taut, edited with an introduction by Dennis Sharp. Glass
Architecture translated by James Palmes, Alpine Architecture translated by Shirley Palmer (New York–Washington:
Praeger Publishers 1972). See also
Matthias Schirren, Bruno Taut Alpine
Architecture: Eine Utopie / A Utopia (Prestel: München–Berlin-London–New York,
Wagner, The Art-Work of the Future and
Other Works (German original, Das
Kunstwerk der Zukunft, 1849), transl.
by William Ashton Ellis (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press,
1984); of the present-day developments of the idea, see, for example, The Aesthetics of the Total Artwork: On
Borders and Fragments, ed. by Anke
Finger and Danielle Follett (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press,
 On social aesthetics from a
related present-day perspective, see Arnold Berleant, "On Getting Along
Beautifully: Ideas for Social Aesthetics" in Pauline von Bonsdorff and
Arto Haapala (ed.), Aesthetics in the
Human Environment (Lahti, Finland: International Institute of Applied
Aesthetics, 1999), pp. 12-29; and Sensibility
and Sense: The Aesthetic Transformation of the Human World (Imprint Academic: Exeter, U.K.-Charlottesville,
VA, 2010), especially "Part Three: Social Aesthetics", pp. 155-223.
 For another
example, see Tamari Tomoko, “Rise of the Department Store and the
Aestheticization of Everyday Life in Early 20th Century Japan,” International Journal of Japanese Sociology
15 (2006), 99–118.
 Yu Kongjian
deals with the turn to ecological architecture in the following books and articles:
Yu Kongjian and Mary Padua (editors), The
Art of Survival: Recovering Landscape Architecture (Victoria, Australia:
Images Publishing Group Pty Ltd, 2006). Yu
Kongjian, “Beautiful Big Feet: Toward a New Landscape Aesthetic,” Harvard Design Magazine,31 (Fall/Winter 2009/10), 1-13. Yu Kongjian, “The Big-Foot Revolution,” in Ecological Urbanism ed. by Mohsen Mostafavi with Gareth Doherty
(Harvard: Harvard University
of Design, with Baden, Switzerland: Lars Müller Publishers,2010), pp. 282-291.
Welsch, “Art Beyond Aestheticism,” in The
Future of Values: 21st Century Talks, ed. by Jérôme Bindé (Paris:
Unesco Publishing / New York – Oxford, U.K.:
Berghahn Books, 2004), pp. 64–68; ref. on pp. 67–68.
 On the concept
of civility, see Anthony Townsend Kronman, “Civility,” Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository, Faculty Scholarship
Series, 1–1–1996, paper 1055 (25 pages).