Monday, February 24, 2014

Ranciere, Greenberg, Whitman

I’m currently working on the third chapter of my book on Rancière and philosophy, part of which was recently delivered at the Aesthetic Experience conference here in Ottawa. As often happens, the final paper didn’t sound too much like the abstract. While I promised a reconsideration of Schiller, I ended up spending much more time on a reconsideration of Greenberg’s modernism—contrasted, at different points, with Baudelaire, Benjamin, Rancière, and Schiller (I also spend more time on Greenberg because, as it turns out, I'll be developing a reading of Schiller that responds to Kant, Fichte, and finally Schelling's concerns as I've outlined them in F&NSPA). The space I’ve dedicated to Greenberg in the third chapter (it’s about 2000 words or so) is warranted because Rancière claims, in a recent interview in Ranciere Now, that ‘the dominant modernist paradigm (the Greenbergian theorization of the avant-garde) is in fact a liquidation of the dominant tendency of the aesthetic regime, which is to abolish the boundaries between “mediums,” between high art and popular art, and ultimately between art and life.’

Untitled, 1957

In developing an interpretation of Greenberg, I found a passage that lends support to Rancière’s opposition between Whitman and Greenberg. (Not to mention that Greenberg is criticizing Clyfford Still, who was one of the first abstract artists I really appreciated--for reasons that might be entirely contingent, because several of Still's works are exhibited in the SFMOMA). In Aisthesis, Rancière argues that Greenberg’s modernism repudiates the ‘cultural democracy [of art] stemming from Whitman,’ and while the case is strong, he does not cite an explicit case where Greenberg castigates Whitman for being, at least in part, kitsch (though note that in ‘Avant-Garde and Kitsch,’ Greenberg singles out John Steinbeck’s work as a hybrid of modern art and kitsch). However, later, in ‘“American-Type” Painting,’ Greenberg praises Still’s work, with the caveat that
Still’s uncompromising art has its own affinity with popular or bad taste. It is the first body of painting I know of that asks to be called Whitmanesque in the worst as well as the best sense, indulging as it does in loose and sweeping gestures, and defying certain conventions…in the same gauche way that Whitman defied meter. And just as Whitman’s verse assimilated to itself qualities of stale journalistic and oratorical prose, Still’s painting assimilates to itself some of the stalest and most prosaic painting of our time…the kind of open-air painting in autumnal colors…which has spread among half-trained painters only since Impressionism became popular.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Aesthetic Experience Conference

UPDATED 10 February, schedule changes in italics, including the time of my presentation

I will be participating in the Aesthetic Experience Conference at the University of Ottawa this month. My talk will be a rough draft of the first half of Chapter 3 of my book on Rancière. The abstract:
The modernist concept of art, as explicitly formulated by Clement Greenberg, is modeled on an analogy with Kantian critique: just as critical philosophy engages in the self-interrogation of the capacities and limits of reason, modern art engages in the interrogation of the particular medium of each art. I will argue that Rancière’s claim that we can better understand the history of the last two centuries of art by reference to what he calls the “aesthetic regime of art” entails an important reconsideration of Schiller, whose work is often seen as derivatively Kantian. Schiller, Rancière argues, is the first major figure to articulate what is at stake in the aesthetic regime of art: a persistent tension between free play and free appearance, between art becoming life and life becoming art.
The full conference schedule (Location is Simard Room 129): 

February 19 février: The Status of Aesthetic Experience/ Le status de l’expérience esthétique

9h00-9h30: Breakfast/déjeuner
9h30-9h45: Introduction

9h45-11h15: Allen Carlson – The Dilemma of Everyday Aesthetic Experience

11h15-11h30: Coffee break/pause café

11h30-12h15: Veronika Huta and Keith Pearce – Findings From Psychology Research on Aesthetic Experience

12h15-13h45: Lunch/diner

13h45-14h30: Susan Douglas -– AestheSis and/as Aesthetics

14h30-15h15: Bertrand Labasse – L’art ou le mouchoir ? Sur l’interaction des facteurs cognitifs et sociaux dans l’appréciation esthétique

15h15-16h00 Jason Saunders – An integral theory of aesthetics

16h00-16h15 Coffee break/pause café

16h15-17h00 Devin Zane Shaw – Aesthetics and Emancipation: Rancière’s Reconsideration of Schiller

17h00-17h45 Christopher McGrath - Aesthetic Experience as the Meansfor Becoming Human: Romantic Aesthetics in Schleiermacher and Dilthey

18h00-20h00 : Reception/Réception

February 20 février Art and Aeshetic Experience/Art et expérience esthétique
9h00-9h30 : Breakfast/déjeuner
9h30-9h45: Introduction

9h45-11h15: Daniel Dumouchel – L’esthétique introuvable. Considérations historiques sur la genèse de l’expérience ‘esthétique’ de l’art

11h15-11h30: Coffee break/pause café

11h30-12h15: Mélissa Thériault – Ces expériences que nous ne « vivons pas »: l'expérience de la fiction

12h15-13h45: Lunch/diner

13h45-15h15 Noel Carroll - Defending the Content Theory of Aesthetic Experience

15h15-15h30 Coffee break/pause café

15h30-16h15 Louise Boisclair – Particularités de l’expérience perceptuelle interactive

16h15-17h00 Jakub Zdebik – The Line as Aesthetic Experience: Orientation in Thinking in Kant, Deleuze and Kuitca

17h00-17h45 Dave Kemp - An Uncertain Experience: the Production and Viewing of Photographic Documentation from Performance Art Events