Non-Visual Aesthetics: Seeing the World with Our Bodies
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Schrag, A. (2018) Non-Visual Aesthetics: Seeing the World with Our Bodies. Visual Culture in Britain, 19 (2), pp. 216-236.
This text explores the role of 'physical ontologies' within Socially Engaged Art practices, and explores how the notion of visual art can be limiting to artworks developed with communities and 'non-artists'. It uses the field of Embodied Cognition and the concept of an Anthropology of the Body to frame how physical activities can be positioned not only as 'art' but as processes by which artists can ethically explore the world with communities. As such, it provides a counter-narrative to assumptions of how art should function within socially engaged contexts, and examines how physical ontologies become effective - and affective - tools when working in genre of art that is fundamentally based on humans exchanging with each other in a process meaning-making. While there are many discussions on-going about the role of art within the public realm, the formulation of a physical ontology within socially engaged practices has been less explored, and this text provides a reflective discussion point. It is written from the perspective of a practice-based researcher who has worked within the field of participatory/public art for over 14 years, and provides an example of a physical methodology to frame his argument. This information would be important and interesting for any fields or practitioners working in an engaged or participatory manner with an artist, such as social work, participatory democracy/activisms, or other socially engaged practices.