RE: Beauty and Transparency

8 Dec 2003 - 5:14pm
586 reads
hans samuelson
2003

For those who may not be familiar with it, there is an interesting body
of research at Caroline Hummels' site at Delft.
http://studiolab.io.tudelft.nl/hummels/research
Her work centers around the question of interactive aesthetics, which
butts up quite rapidly against questions of interaction and beauty in
general.

For example, the 2000 text "Actions speak louder than words: shifting
from buttons and icons to aesthetics of interaction" (scroll down her
publications list a little) offers five criteria for evaluating
aesthetic interactions:

- Functional possibilities and performance of the product
-The user's desires, needs, interests and skills (perceptual-motor,
cognitive and emotional)
-Physical and social context
-Richness with respect to all the senses
-Possibility to create one's own story and ritual

which are an interesting combination of tangible and intangible
criteria, analyzed in a product-centered context. Cornelis Overbeeke's
work, also from Delft, is also related to these questions of practical
aesthetics and beauty in interaction.

On a more abstract note, one of the best discussions I have found on
the philosophical concept of beauty is Alexander Nehamas' "An essay on
beauty and judgement" which is online, at least for the moment, at
http://www.mrbauld.com/beautyheh.html
It's anchored in enough pop-culture references to make the Kant
palatable.

Finally, it's interesting (all things being relative, of course) to
note that that a transvestite potter has just won the most prestigious
art prize in Britain - the Turner prize - which is usually won by the
art-world equivalent of a 'challenging' piece of sushi (think freshly
killed sea urchin, served still twitching). While this is not
necessarily a metric of beauty, what is? And note the repeated
invocation of beauty in what follows (NY Times report on the Turner
prize)

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/08/arts/design/08TURN.html?8hpib

"A lot of my work has always had a guerrilla tactic, a stealth tactic,"
[prize winner Grayson Perry] said earlier this year. "I want to make
something that lives with the eye as a beautiful piece of art, but on
closer inspection, a polemic or an ideology will come out of it. Not so
that it destroys the intrinsic pattern and beauty of it. I don't want
to sacrifice the aesthetic for the idea. I want the two to be so close
that they live happily together, or maybe not happily, but so there is
a frisson."

As for the other shortlisted artists, Ms. Gallaccio's main works on
view here are "because I could not stop," comprising a bronze tree cast
with real apples that have been left to rot, and "preserve 'beauty',"
which shows 2,000 red gerberas pressed against a pane of glass and left
to decay."
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