At the Edges of Vision: A Phenomenological Aesthetics of Contemporary Spectatorship, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

At the Edges of Vision

A Phenomenological Aesthetics of Contemporary Spectatorship, 1st Edition

By Renée van de Vall


190 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9780754640738
pub: 2008-09-15
SAVE ~$33.00

FREE Standard Shipping!


In At the Edges of Vision, Renée van de Vall re-examines the aesthetics of spectatorship in terms of new-media art and visual culture. The aesthetic experience of visual art has traditionally been described in terms of the distanced contemplation and critical interpretation of the work's form and representational content. Recent developments in installation, video and computer art have foregrounded the bodily and affective engagement of the spectator and, in retrospect, throw into question the model of spectatorial distance for more traditional art forms as well. But what does this development entail for art's potential for reflective, imaginative and experiential depth? Is art still capable of providing a critical counterpoint to the ubiquitous presence of sensational, yet short-lived media imagery when it speaks to the senses rather than to the mind? In a thorough examination of examples from painting, film, installation art and interactive video, and computer art, Van de Vall argues for a tactile and affective conception of reflection, linking philosophy and art. Looking at a Rembrandt self-portrait and navigating through an internet art work have in common that both types of work rely on a playful, rhythmically structured, sensuous and embodied reflexivity for the articulation of meaning. This sensuous dimension of playful reflexivity is just as important in philosophical thought, however, as the transcendental condition for genuine, open-ended reflection. Drawing on the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Lyotard and Deleuze on the one hand and on new-media theory on the other, Van de Vall develops a performative phenomenology of aesthetic reflection, visuality and visual art, in order to rethink art's ethical and political relevance in present-day digital-media culture.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Space without hiding places: Merleau-Ponty's discussion of linear perspective; Touching the face: the ethical dimension of visuality between Levinas and a Rembrandt self-portrait; Between battlefield and play: on art and aesthetics in visual culture; Criticism from within: on reflection and aesthetic feeling; The mediation of passibility: art and interactive spectatorship; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Renée van de Vall Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts and Culture, University of Maastricht, The Netherlands.

About the Series

Histories of Vision

Histories of Vision
Art history is not only an historical discipline, it is also the visual study of works of art. There is no naturally given, self-evident and transparent link between the object, its perception, its representation and its functions. Images are cultural constructions with their own poetics and histories, but vision as well has its histories. The aim of this series is to reconstruct these histories. It is devoted to the study of works of art considered as ways of seeing, viewing practices, and the various codifications of visual perception connected with the arts and artistic theories through the ages. The series not only covers painting and sculpture, but also architecture. Its scope is not limited to Western art, but includes in particular the ways in which non-Western art has been perceived in Western art history.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Criticism & Theory