Art as Experience and Formal Emancipation

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Art as Experience and Formal Emancipation

Art as Experience – this is a famous phrase relating art to the philosophical field of American pragmatism. It is also the title of John Dewey‘s book in which he presents art as a specific kind of enriching experience. Experiencing art as a participatory activity allows us not to treat it as a vast collection of works of art, that is specific to material objects, but to ask questions about how art influences us. How do we change due to aesthetic experiences? These are questions on art’s performativity, in that we find we are now concerned with how artistic objects and aesthetic experiences can change the world, as art becomes an active provocative agent of such change. W.J.T. Mitchell’s exemplary theory, with his radical understanding of pictures, is a contemporary theory in the area of visual culture studies, reflecting such questions.
Understanding art as experience also allows us to tranverse the gap between popular art and elite art, or low art and high art. If the primary dynamic to aesthetic judgements is experience, then we cannot divide art according to class divisions. We cannot state which objects are worth being seen in a museum and which are not. Also we cannot pass elitist judgements on which performances should or should not be presented, and in general, which experiences are worth having.
Art as pragmatism is radically democratic. It does not belong to one class, one group, one form, because art is about making our lives more deeply interesting. At this point we can see the obvious connection between emancipation and art. Art is democratic if you can express yourself freely, just as it means that the environment you are living in can be improved by your artistic contributions. If you cannot express yourself freely, something is worng, then it is quite possible that your country is totalitarian.
As philosophers, who are all willing to discuss broadly conceived ideas of emancipation, we think we can speak for everyone involved in this project, by saying that art is indispensable to all aspects of evolution. Therefore, we would like to present some exceptional art, along with artists‘ statements, so as to consider closely notions of emancipation in sometimes more, and sometimes less, explicit ways.

Professor Lukasz Skapski from the Academy of Art in Szczecin, Poland presents two of his projects: Red Line and Emancipation of Color. Both projects were prepared especially for this site.
Red Line refers to social issues and class division, all of which are connected via subway, as one travels from the exclusive to the poor districts of Stockholm. Emancipation of Color is a formal game with color that is being emancipated from the text on the site as the color appears by itself in a sequence of changes.

Professor Zbigniew Romańczuk also from the Academy of Art in Szczecin, Poland presents Emancipation of Technical Picture, that is the findings of his formal explorations in the field of abstraction. Following the first renowned artists practicing geometric abstraction: Kazimir Malevich, Wassily Kandinsky, and Piet Mondrian investigating the essence of the visibility, Romańczuk experiments with the form of the appearances of digital pictures. He works with colors, forms, and views, creating new visibilities, new entities in the world, not just reflections of something existent. His explicit objective is to transpose a form of visual perception of the digital picture, of a screen to canvas in order to better recognize visual relations and values of digital imagery. He thinks of his images as devoid of narrative figuration. Romańczuk recognizes that the cores of his pictures are the image’s constructed visibility, which frees the painting from representation.

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by Aleksandra Lukaszewicz Alcaraz


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