The Aesthetics Group is a research group affiliated with The Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media (GradCAM) and based in Dublin. We are researchers and practitioners from a variety of different backgrounds such as philosophy, visual art, digital media, theatre and performance. Since 2012 we have collaboratively engaged with aesthetic theory, practice and policy to develop new critical positions in aesthetics and related fields.
An important outcome of our research involves performative pedagogy. The group collaboratively write texts around which they then enact performances. This has included ‘A Unique Press Conference’ for their text ‘Turn, turn, turn: Civic Instrumentalisation and the Promotion of Autonomy in Contemporary Arts Funding’ at the European Society for Aesthetics Conference in Dublin, 2015 (pdf available here). The conference was organised and hosted by GradCAM. The Aesthetics Group also performed ‘A Re-turn to Schiller: Dublin v Barcelona’ a live link between Dublin and The European Society for Aesthetics conference in Barcelona 2016. This performance was based around Schiller’s mobilisation of ‘play’. The group are currently researching the aesthetics of the digital. All members of the group are also members of The Digital Studies Network Seminar.
In 2017 we perfoermed “I See Birds Flying Over the White House” at the Research Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. The piece was developed in response to artist Michael Bell Smith’s wonderful artwork “Birds Over the White House” (courtesy of the artist and Foxy Production, NY) which the artist specially repurposed for the performance. The Aesthetics Group were also responding to the theme of the Pavilion “Utopia’s of Access”.
The Aesthetics Group presented a paper titled: “A Post-Digital Aesthetics of the Inhuman Gaze: Reflections on I See Birds Flying Over the White House” at The Inhuman Gaze Conference at the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris in June 2018. https://theinhumangaze.com/. The conference was three-day multi-disciplinary international conference spanning the disciplines of philosophy, cognitive neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, sociology and aesthetics. The conference theme, took as it’s point of departure, a quote from Merleau-Ponty where he posits the othering of the gaze and warns against the negation of empathy and affective responsiveness to the other through the gaze.
Recently, as part of our colleague, artist Jeanette Doyle’s, wonderful current exhibition ‘From A to Z & Back Again’ @ac.institute , in New York, the Aesthetics Group performed a new piece of work From A to Z and Back Again which was a response to Doyle’s work. The work continues the groups research which interrogates the aesthetics of language and politics in the digital age. By responding to Doyle’s set of treated digital prints, which referenced each letter of the alphabet, the performance offered a playful critique of the contested nature of words and their constituents. It attempts to play between the relation of the immaterial and the de-materialized nature of words and image, their analogue and digital registers.