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February 21, 2012



During the talk when considering the Bell/'Significant Form' position I found myself wondering whether critics who subscribed to that view and who were 'aesthetically sensitive' agreed about works of art. Would all 'sensitive aesthetes' sort a set of works into the same order if asked to do so on the basis of 'aesthetic impact/perfection'? Do anti-intent art critics today share the same views as anti-intent art critics in the past? If not, does this argue against the anti-intent view? Could this aesthetic sensitivity be learned? The way it came across in the talk made it seem a ripe target for some scientific trials to see whether one could rationally simply dismiss the anti-intention, pro-sensitive aesthetic view as lacking sufficient evidence to be serious consideration.

In the session I wondered 'If the job of the artwork was to reveal the intent of the artist, didn't a separate description of the intent, perhaps in the show catalogue or a book about the artist do away with the need for the artwork itself?' I think I understand differently now, with 'mining/retrieving' the artist's intent through an alternate channel acting like a lens, focussing or clarifying the context of the work. Now I'm left wondering whether one should really try to read the captions before looking at the artwork. Surely if you look at the art 'fresh', without the caption first, you in some way set an initial impression about the art based only on your own previous experiences and beliefs. With a tricky piece I find myself casting around for any kind of internal reference that can aid understanding. Once set, it can be hard to dismiss a particular reading of an image; certainly hard to dismiss that reading entirely. Reading the caption first prepares the ground for the experience of the work itself, I wonder if this could be argued by a supporter of the intentional view to provide a superior/'truer' experience than one which has to battle through the noise of a first impression of the art without first having researched the piece.


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Depending on how long your training session is, consider including a couple of breaks to give students a chance to stretch their legs. Alternatively, you can work in a couple of off topic exercises designed to give attendants a refresher such as breathing exercises. Thanks.

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