Nature Of Art

Aesthetics, Art, and Politics at University of Helsinki

Finnish Society for Aesthetics
PO Box 4, FIN-0 0 0 1 4 UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI
www.estetiikka.fi

“Aesthetics, Art, and Politics,” 6.5.-7.5.2010, University of Helsinki

The Finnish Society for Aesthetics together with the research project Artification and its Impact on Art (http://www.artification.fi/) will arrange a two-day seminar on the theme “Aesthetics, Art, and Politics” from the 6th of May to the 7th of May 2010 at the University of Helsinki. The keynote speaker of the seminar is Professor Aleš Erjavec (Slovenia).

Significant connections between aesthetics, art, and politics continue to exist in the new millennium. However, alongside traditional questions about art’s relationship to politics and the political aspects of aesthetic phenomena, a new set of issues has gradually arisen which are as much a
result of changes occurring in aesthetics and art as they are a result of changes that have recently shaped politics. The criticism that different traditions of contemporary aesthetics have aimed against the idea of “pure aesthetics,” i.e., an aesthetics severed from political considerations, has been widely accepted. But what is the position of aesthetic theories which emphasize the social function of art and aesthetics today? Do the main traditions of contemporary aesthetics any longer manage to account for the current forms that the relationship between aesthetics, art, and politics takes or are novel approaches required for analyzing those connections?

Many other social practices besides art are to a growing extent characterized by features which have traditionally been associated primarily with art. What sorts of aesthetic and political consequences could this process known as “artification” involve? What are the effects of this development, for
example, to the alleged autonomous nature of art or is this supposition a mere fallacy anyway? Different artistic traditions and movements embody different kinds of ideologies. How should one understand the relationship between art and politics in a world where faith in the impact of politics is
increasingly diminishing? Changes of approach in recent art research also provide a new outlook on the theme of the seminar. Do the different research approaches articulate specific views of the connection between aesthetics and politics and what sorts of political underpinnings, if any, could these approaches themselves involve?

Brent Bucknum of Hyphae Design: a profile.

bucknum

We don’t have time to do environmental at that’s not functional.

– Brent Bucknum



In working on a Climate Clock for the San Jose Initiative, designer Brent Bucknam would often get into theoretical debates about the nature of art. His project partner, Brian Howe of greenmeme, would quote Picasso: Art is the lie that reveals the truth. Brent’s response was the quote above.

It’s one of the central questions of the environmental art movement, and one that is integral to Brent’s work with Hyphae Design Laboratory, a company he founded.

How can art save the world?

Artists on greenmuseum.org and elsewhere  are blurring cultural boundaries between art and science, science and activism, volunteerism and performance. Traditional forms hold fast, but functionality remains central to Hyphae’s work. Function: defined by this designer as “interpreting and conveying ecological information or serving otherwise as an ecological tool or system.” Hyphae is currently working on a project in West Oakland, a plan to line the 580 highway on either side with towering stands of bamboo, natural air and particulate filters. On a greenmuseum.org-sponsored panel at the recent Earth Matters on Stage Symposium, he presented a number of other exciting projects, from green roofs to living walls.

The 28-year old designer went to a farming high school. He worked for bioremediation and green roof companies before joining Rana Creek, with which he worked on the California Academy of Sciences’ living roof. He became that company’s first Director of Design before moving on to create Hyphae.  He sees his new company as a catchall, providing services from ecological design and research to consulting for artists interested in environmental projects.

That last aspect is the result of Bucknum’s own experiences making environmental art: he’d like to see artwork that ’s better informed by ecology, not, as he puts it, the “horti-torture” that creates living systems barely able to survive the duration of an exhibition. He’d like the art to be the change it would like to see in the world: smart, sustainable, and thriving.

Go to the Green Museum