Browsing The Humanities by Subject "Aaesthetic embodiment"
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Item Open AccessBeyond spectatorship: an exploration of embodied engagement with art(University of the Free State, 2014-10) Lauwrens, Jennifer; Van den Berg, D. J.English: According to proponents of the so-called ‘sensory turn’ the varied layers of a person’s experience of the social and material world produced via the senses of taste, touch, hearing and smell have largely been neglected in academic research on art. It is precisely because a person’s embodied and sensual engagement is increasingly being recognised as co-constitutive of the dynamic relationship occurring between people and art that dealing with the visual alone has been found to be insufficient and has brought about a shift in interest toward the other senses. Working between the disciplines of art history and visual culture studies, this research engages with art in ways that exceed the visual in order to understand the embodied and engaged interactions at work between a person and art. I argue that scholarly investigations of the visual field have, until recently, often avoided explorations of the affective, multisensorial body of a viewer in relation to what s/he sees even though many art practices invite the engagement and participation of the whole body beyond spectatorship only. In a close analysis of two installations, a land art piece, one video and one entire participatory exhibition the possible ways in which to theorise the involvement of the whole person in aesthetic experience and not only the mind, intellect or consciousness are explored. It is argued that a re-conception of art and spectatorship as embodied interaction provides a far more nuanced understanding of people’s experiences of art than ideologically and interpretative driven ‘readings’ only. The theme of embodied spectatorship and contemporary art is approached in particular through the lenses of the sensory turn, the pictorial turn, the corporeal turn, empathy theory, affect theory, phenomenology and aesthetic embodiment and engagement. By placing various examples of contemporary art in dialogue with these theoretical perspectives the limitations of traditional notions regarding aesthetic spectatorship are exposed. This leads to the beginning of a broader conversation about the role and status of a whole embodied sensual being in her/his encounter with specific materialities of art. My basic theoretical standpoint is that a person’s embodied and engaged experience is the starting point from which investigations of art can productively proceed. In other words, by means of a predominantly phenomenological approach that describes aesthetic situations and encounters, it is argued that direct experience does not simply contribute to, but rather has a primacy and authority in encounters with art, and should, therefore, be investigated.