On Aesthetics - Is Beauty in the DNA of the Beholder?

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honorentheos
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On Aesthetics - Is Beauty in the DNA of the Beholder?

Post by honorentheos »

By request, splitting this into a new thread -

viewtopic.php?p=2780603#p2780603

Morley commented -
I'm reminded of the perennial question: "What is art?" Though difficult to define, the short answer is that art is that which society recognizes as art. Needless to say, the designation is entirely contextual.
To which Jersey Girl commented -
Jersey Girl wrote:
Fri May 06, 2022 2:16 am
Art is a form of self expression.
And my reply, which is the basis for this split thread -

I disagree. Art is not just an act of expression but also of reception. I mean, sure some people have artistic outlets they use to express themselves. But a person can engage in creating what they wish but aesthetic is more than just expression. One of the questions I found interesting in neuroscience had to do with if there is a universal, biological basis for a shared sense of aesthetics. That's not clear, and some things like music clearly demand early exposure in life to find certain sounds and types of music pleasing.

To make this unwieldy as such discussions should be by way of gatekeeping, I will share a link to a video on neuro-aesthetics given by V.S. Ramachandran. Skip to 21:50 in the link below:

https://youtu.be/X0TKYxAYGGA
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Re: On Aesthetics - Is Beauty in the DNA of the Beholder?

Post by honorentheos »

https://youtu.be/X0TKYxAYGGA?t=1304

The above jumps to Ramachandran's talk. I will say the talk before it is very good, but dense and not something I expect most would watch. Ramachandran is more of a gifted speaker.

I choose one of his shorter talks on the subject because his book, Phantoms in the Brain, from 2003-4ish was the first book I read that touched on the subject and put him on my radar. I've kept an eye on his work on the topic since because he suggested then he hoped to publish something more substantial after more work on the subject. That has not yet appeared, to my disappointment, and suggests that its a tougher nut to crack than he hoped. Much like consciousness, the fringes at the edges of biology and psychology seem to be frontier we've struggled to cross beyond.
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Re: On Aesthetics - Is Beauty in the DNA of the Beholder?

Post by honorentheos »

That said, there are systematic approaches to assessing visual aesthetics that are founded on the idea that there is some shared sense of "beauty" that isn't just cultural but innate to human viewers. Agencies such as the BLM or National Forest Service have visual resource management systems that they use to determine the compatibility of planned change with its setting such as a new road or facility, and identify visual mitigation needs for projects in settings where there are so-called "sensitive viewers". What makes a person a sensitive viewer?

Canpakes? I suspect you may know a thing or two about this.
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Re: On Aesthetics - Is Beauty in the DNA of the Beholder?

Post by huckelberry »

Honorentheos, Interesting proposal that there might be general biological basis for appreciation of aesthetic qualities.I watched your youtube link and thought it had some interesting pieces to begin thinking with.I liked best best the aesthetics of bird nest building. Arnt we just like our fine feathered friends.

I might think there is a fundamental pure beauty. Mondrian might suggest such a pure perception. But the rest of art might suggest there is more pleasure in less purity.

I did find myself wondering about your proposal that to appreciate music we must be early exposed to the particular style to assimilate its vocabulary in a sense. I find myself thinking that getting into the language of a particular music style certainly opens doors to appreciating it. I do not see any locked doors there however. I think people may encounter different or alien music at different times of life and come to appreciate it. I find myself thinking of Japanese people coming to love all sorts of western music, Beethoven's 9th symphony or MIles Davis jazz.

The other way to look at the matter would be thinking of music I cannot stand. I do not really think the problem is not knowing the vocabulary. I am unable to like heavy metal or Ozzy Osborn yet the musical vocabulary for the music I think is stuff I am very familiar with. Neil Young Everybody knows this is nowhere is engraved in my musical memory. (or a little further back in development , Rolling Stones, Satisfaction)

I love a Gary Larson cartoon, Charlie Parker in hell. The devil has poor Charlie locked in a sound booth and is playing a whole stack of new age music albums. Charlie is on the verge of tears. Now there is nothing strange foreign or unknown in that music it just has enough annoying repetition and blandness to send a person to crying in a corner if there is no escape.
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Re: On Aesthetics - Is Beauty in the DNA of the Beholder?

Post by Morley »

A century ago, Clive Bell maintained that aesthetic sensibility was something that can't ever be taught. He thought that one must be educated in art to sense what he called 'significant form,' but that education, though necessary, was in itself insufficient. Aesthetic sensibility was something one either had or didn't.

I used to think that folks like Bell and Clement Greenberg were idiots because they were essentialists. Nowadays, I'm not so sure. I'm beginning to believe that there may be some things that can't ever be learned--that we either have them or we don't. And I really don't want to see the world that way. It kind of pisses me off.
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Re: On Aesthetics - Is Beauty in the DNA of the Beholder?

Post by huckelberry »

Morley wrote:
Sat May 07, 2022 1:57 am
A century ago, Clive Bell maintained that aesthetic sensibility was something that can't ever be taught. He thought that one must be educated in art to sense what he called 'significant form,' but that education, though necessary, was in itself insufficient. Aesthetic sensibility was something one either had or didn't.

I used to think that folks like Bell and Clement Greenberg were idiots because they were essentialists. Nowadays, I'm not so sure. I'm beginning to believe that there may be some things that can't ever be learned--that we either have them or we don't. And I really don't want to see the world that way. It kind of pisses me off.
Well Morley, you have schooled me and I imagined I should have known. Or maybe I told myself that while closing my mind to Greenberg. Man could he project a wall of know it all in Artforum

Well thanks.
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Re: On Aesthetics - Is Beauty in the DNA of the Beholder?

Post by Morley »

Huckelberry: No one can school you, my friend. I'm sure your knowledge far exceeds mine.

Honor: Thank you for Ramachandran. I think this is a fascinating topic.
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Re: On Aesthetics - Is Beauty in the DNA of the Beholder?

Post by huckelberry »

Morley, I enjoy our occasional exchanges about art. It is ok if you know more than I on something, perhaps there are other moments when that arrangement is reversed.
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Beholder?

Post by High Spy »

honorentheos wrote:
Fri May 06, 2022 7:46 pm

... What makes a person a sensitive viewer? ...
Fresh terminology. 8-)

probably a propensity to profit from past experiences, such as seeing a partial pattern in preparation to see a full revelation, such has occurred, on more than one occasion.

3*8** Knight Lion, but not Nite Lion. 🐳 gbng

Everybody's heard the whale and 8 are linked. :lol:

Choose the 🥩
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Re: On Aesthetics - Is Beauty in the DNA of the Beholder?

Post by canpakes »

honorentheos wrote:
Fri May 06, 2022 7:46 pm
… identify visual mitigation needs for projects in settings where there are so-called "sensitive viewers". What makes a person a sensitive viewer?

Canpakes? I suspect you may know a thing or two about this.

Check out III.A.1, on the fourth page of this linked doc -

https://blmwyomingvisual.anl.gov/docs/B ... H-8410.pdf
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