Tag Archives: John Dewey

Bilateral Blogging – Essay about Bilateral Kellerberrin now available

Bilateral Kellerberrin Screenshot

An essay I wrote about my blog-as-art project Bilateral Kellerberrin has been published in The International Journal of the Arts in Society. (You can download a pdf here or here.)

To give you a broad idea, the essay is about blogging as a new(ish) form of artmaking, requiring us to think in new(ish) ways about its ethics and aesthetics. It also involves a bit of thinking about some of the ideas in Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics, particularly the idea of micro-utopias and the difference between art that occurs in -vs- out of an art gallery context. I’m following John Dewey’s concerns (from Art as Experience) that art should not compartmentalise itself into special architectural spaces, but try to find ways to co-exist with every day life on its own terms. I claim that blogging (as I used it in Bilateral Kellerberrin) has the capacity to do this.
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The idea of art and the aesthetic as a separate realm distinguished by its freedom, imagination, and pleasure has as its underlying correlative the dismal asumption that ordinary life is one of joyless, unimaginitive coercion. This provides an excuse for the powers and institutions that structure our everyday life to be brutally indifferent to natural human needs for the pleasures of beauty and imaginitive freedom. These are not to be sought in real life, but in art, whose contrast and escape from the real gives us human sufferers temporary solace and relief. By thus compartmentalizing art and the aesthetic as something to be enjoyed when we take a break from reality, the most hideous and oppressive institutions and practices of our civilization get legitimated and more deeply entrenched as inevitably real; they are erected as necessities to which art and beauty, by the reality principle, must be subordinated. Still worse, those rigid and cruelly divisive institutional realities then further justify and glorify themselves through the high art our civilization produces in trying to transcend and escape them. Art becomes, in Dewey's mordant phrase, “the beauty parlor of civilization,” covering with an opulent aesthetic surface its ugly horrors and brutalities. These, for Dewey, include class snobbery, imperialism, and capitalism's profit-seeking oppression, social disintegration, and alienation of labor.

-from Richard Shusterman, Pragmatist Aesthetics, Rowman and Littlefield, Oxford, UK, 2000, p24.
(referring to John Dewey, Art as Experience, 1934)