BeskrivelseAesthetics Unlimited, hosted by Roskilde University, is a new research network sponsored by the Danish Council for Independent Research. Collaborating with Séminaire d’Esthétique Européen the network specializes in field studies pertaining to aesthetics.
The inaugural conference by research network Aesthetics Unlimited will be held on May 4-5, 2017, at Roskilde University.
Taste is subjective. In matters of taste, the subject is on its own, responsible, unguided by rational methods. Yet, taste is also objective; taste implies the objective authority to perceive things beyond prejudice and naivety. In addition, my taste is not “for me” only. Taste concerns communities, arises from and builds the spirits of communities.
Questioning the concept of taste inevitably points to a deeply rooted aesthetics. During the eighteenth century, taste attracted such intense philosophical attention that the notion – as leitmotiv and emerging concept – became operative in founding the genuine philosophical discipline of aesthetics.
This is why the inaugural conference of the Aesthetics Unlimited research network focuses on taste. The concept of taste is indeed challenging and intriguing because it obliges us to reconsider a – perhaps forgotten, perhaps archaic – conceptual framework of aesthetics. The original conception of taste evolved around the establishment of aesthetics based on communities of taste that supposedly meant more than merely subjective conformity to class markers or tradition. However, if aesthetics descends from taste, it should make us wonder why taste has been so astonishingly straightforwardly dismissed by philosophical aesthetics in the subsequent centuries, only to reappear – modernized and standardized – in the sociological terms of particular domains of taste, e.g. taste of fashion, taste of music and taste of cooking.
This anachronistic tension is the underlying motivation behind the broader research question Aesthetics Unlimited is attempting to addressis addressing: What are the role and potential implication of classical aesthetic thought in the unlimited realm of contemporary aestheticization? The ubiquitous staging of experience in today’s media, politics, leisure and art has significantly expanded the field of aesthetics proper. However, the vocabularies and perspectives developed in early modern aesthetics have never been entirely left behind in this process. In continuous dialogue with later developments in twentieth century aesthetics – including the “anti-aesthetic” attitudes of postmodernist thought and its preferences for lust, desire, pleasure and boredom – key concepts of classic philosophical aesthetics such as taste, pleasure, affect and beauty continue to shape what we understand as aesthetic. Accordingly, the shared vocabulary of contemporary aesthetics often seems to disintegrate into a common terminological nebulous, formed by the complex historical mixture of various philosophical traditions, conceptual paradigms, sociocultural and technological conditions and domains of interest.
The inaugural Aesthetics Unlimited conference intends to revisit, investigate and put into perspective the concept of taste both currently and historically in order to consider its potentials and possible disjunctions in the exploration of current phenomena of aestheticization. There is undoubtedly no direct way back to the eighteenth century’s aesthetics category of taste, but between its early developments into bourgeois identity and future mass consumerism, between autonomy and the market, detours might be envisaged and explored. The transdisciplinary range of papers to be presented at the conference will provide a platform to allow new potential perspectives on contemporary aesthetics to develop.
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