[artinfo] Book launch: Experimental Aesthetics

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Mon Dec 1 13:45:14 CET 2014

Experimental Aesthetics


Today, both the practice and understanding of 
artistic research are encompassed by increasingly 
rigidifying forms of academization. This asks for 
a thorough conceptual reassessment of that 
originally artistic field. Indeed, many questions 
have been lurking in the wings for some time now. 
Does the present conceptual impact of artistic 
research still cover its original and radical 
drive? Is artistic research still related to 
processes of experimental thinking and creating? 
Or does a pervasive institutionalization urge to 
reset the ever-narrowing framework of artistic 

The present publication intends to explore 
topical potentialities of an alternative and more 
strategic manner of dealing with artistic 
practices. Therefore, the texts deliberately 
refer again to the concept of aesthetics. Since 
contemporary thinkers such as Alain Badiou and 
Jacques Rancière have initiated to redefine the 
aesthetic domain, aesthetics seems once again to 
point to extra-territorial frameworks able to 
avoid the production of instrumentalizing 
concepts. Indeed, a topical understanding of 
aesthetics appears to be astoundingly compatible 
with what was once advocated by artistic 
research, i.e. the self-reflexive and 
self-critical capacities of artists engaging in 
configurations of understanding and signification.

In light of a topical reconsideration of the 
aesthetic regime, a first exploration took place 
during the project 
Judgment is the Mirror (Living Art Museum, 
Reykjavik 2013). In particular, attention was 
drawn to how the current artistic discourse and 
its profound focus on method and knowledge 
production is at risk of losing sight of the role 
of critical judgment-after all a core concept in 
Kantian aesthetics. Specifically, the unique 
character of the aesthetic judgment-offering a 
critical mirror reflecting both the judgment and 
how it comes into being-makes clear that the 
aesthetic as such represents a dimension 
preceding a transparent methodology and an 
epistemological result. Therefore, the aesthetic 
process requires a manner of judgment that is 
capable of prolonging the gap between aesthetic 
apprehension and methodological deduction so that 
any claim to knowledge could be delayed as a "not 

The very issues of aesthetics and productive 
delay of knowledge were at the core of the 
Wisdom (Rezan Has Museum, Parallel Event Istanbul 
Biennial, 2013). In line with Nietzsche's Gaya 
Scienza, essayistic presentations of eight 
artistic situation-based thinking processes 
continued the quest for an aesthetics that hovers 
on the border of judgment and affect in an 
attempt to be liberated from the freezing order 
of academic knowledge. The potential of a radical 
choice loomed up, foreboding the course of being 
adrift to the point of a black out of the senses, 
an epistemic guerilla, and making an untimely 
plea for speculative and symbolic forms of 

The current project 
Jam is part of the 9th Tapei Biennial (2014) and 
connects to Nicolas Bourriaud's curatorial 
concept of The Great Acceleration. This concept 
points here to the urge of a global refoundation 
of the notion of aesthetics deploying various 
topical perspectives such as antroposcene, 
object-oriented ontology, and new materialism. 
Yet, Aesthetic Jam also stresses the bond between 
aesthetics and experimental processes of making 
art. A zero-degree exhibition plan developed by 
co-curators Hongjohn Lin and Henk Slager hosted a 
relay-type series of three production periods and 
additional presentation moments. Participating 
artists not only produced new work, but also 
continuously engaged in adaptation of the display 
system and public discussions of the material 
conditions and relevant conceptual frameworks of 
both the exhibition and their art making for 
Aesthetic Jam. 

As an elaboration on aforementioned research 
projects, a publication has been developed in 
collaboration with Metropolis M Books. Deriving 
from a multitude of perspectives and lines of 
thought, this publication intends to question 
anew the concept of aesthetics and its relevant 
positions and situations. Could a novel concept 
of aesthetics reveal different forms of interest 
in and processes of artistic thinking? Could 
experimental aesthetics as an undisciplinary 
methodology distinctive from a theoretical and 
academic philosophy be in the forefront of 
artistic practices? Could a topical understanding 
of aesthetics have the power to reframe the 
concept of artistic research? 

A number of Aesthetic Jam participants such as 
Lonnie van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan, Irene 
Kopelman, Hongjohn Lin, Mick Wilson, Andre Alves, 
and Clodagh Emoe delve into their art making and 
the questions stated above. In addition, the 
publication contains contextualizing texts by 
authors known for their critical reflections on 
the current impact of aesthetics such as Boris 
Groys, Chus Martinez, Timotheus Vermeulen, and 
John Rajchman.

Editor: Henk Slager
Final Editor: Annette W. Balkema
Design: Joris Kritis
More information: 
M Books

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