Category Archives : Aesthetics


Mining the Archive: A Reader for the Questioning Aesthetics Symposium

The Questioning Aesthetics Symposium takes up the term aesthetics as both the subject and object of critique, and as a way to explore and expand new forms of aesthetics research in many disciplines. In relation to the evolving conversations around participation, computing and the contemporary, scholars and artists from around the US will come together for a day long symposium on Friday, March 13, 2015, to discuss the changing state of interdisciplinary art relations and question blind spots in the field.

The threads of these conversations are central to the research goals of Arts Research Center.  In a curated selection of our archive we reflect on how these questions have resonated through conversations about art and social change, art, the relationship between art and STEM fields and inter-arts inquiry.


Creative Time 2013: Margaret Crawford

Two words that I hate: placemaking and vibrant. Yet I constantly hear these buzzwords in urban planning and design, public art and arts funding, often paired, implying that the first invariably leads to the second. Although I would be happy to blame Richard Florida’s “Creative Class” thesis (see my previous ARC keyword) for popularizing them, this definition of “successful” urban spaces has a much longer history. Both words can be traced back to the 1960s, a key moment in American urbanism, when a new set of values appeared that inverted the dominant view of cities.

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Creative Time 2013: Jesse Rodenbiker

Two Eiffel Towers stand in nearly identical proportions in vastly different locales. Their embodied histories and the meanings they signify are highly divergent. So are the symbolic and material relations to those who live in their vicinity. What does the Tianducheng’s Eiffel Tower replica connote? How is it approached on-the-ground by those who live daily in the shadow as well as those displaced residents moved for its construction?

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Creative Time 2013: Hannah Merriman

An artist organizes a political rally about a local issue. The project, which is supported by a local arts center in a medium-size city, fails to attract many local residents; only a couple dozen people show up, most of whom work at the arts center. The event is documented on video and presented as part of an exhibition. In truth, the artist can claim to have organized a rally?” This is one of the provocative questions that Pablo Helguera raises in his bookEducation for Socially Engaged Art.

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Reimagining the Urban: Margaret Crawford

In 2002 economist Richard Florida published the Rise of the Creative Class. In it he argued that the best way for cities to revive their ailing urban economies was to remake themselves in order to attract a social category he called “the creative class.” At the core of this group were innovative and creative workers whose importance in the new knowledge-based economy could produce new companies, attract jobs and residents, and expand consumption. These benefits would then trickle down to re-ignite local economies, based on the “rising tide lifts all boats” principle.

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