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Beauty – Play Matters

Sicart, M. (2014). Beauty. In Play Matters (pp. 61-70). MIT Press.

This chapter addresses the aesthetic experience of play to explore how play and create beauty. The chapter adopts dialogical aesthetics which focuses in on the ecology of object and subject in a aesthetic encounter. This shifts any analysis away from an elevated art object and understands our encounter as individual, and participatory. An entanglement of object, subject, and cultural context. A dialogical aesthetics could help explore more participatory and playful design artifacts and understand the audience past ‘users’ into something more appropriate to speculative design. The chapter explores a range of participatory aesthetic situations such as relational aesthetics that understand the ‘art’ as the participation in a situation and the cultural and social relations that are developed through interaction with the context.

Useful Quotes

“some acts of performing playful actions, lead to aesthetic beauty-to an experience that not only becomes memorable but also proposes a new way of seeing the world. I am interested in the beauty of play.” (p. 61)

“Beauty happens in play, understood as that transitional activity between the different nodes of he play environment, between the things and the players and the context and cultures.” (p. 62)

“Dialogical aesthetics focuses on the concept of dialogue in a context rather than an art piece situated in a context. It is not only that the context is important, but also how the work of art inserts itself in a situation in order to facilitate a dialogue. Aesthetics has always brought new knowledge to the world or new ways of seeing the world. ” (p. 66)

“The aesthetic experience happens in the dialogue not only in the uttering, but also in the act of listening, in the spaces open for expression and reception of ideas.” (p. 67)

“Dialogical aesthetics downplays the importance if the object in favor of the dialogue that emerges among participants. The plaything, even as initiator of the situation, is not important because the aesthetic experience takes place in the dialogue among participants, context, creator, and culture. Aesthetics happen in the context, through the action, and that is why play and dialogical aesthetics are well matched; play too is a contextual appropriation of a situation with the purpose of creating new values, expressions, or knowledge.” (p. 67)

Kester quoted in chapter footnote 29
“This catalyzation of the viewer, the movement towards direct interaction, decisively shifts the locus of aesthetic meaning from the moment of creative plenitude in the solitary act of making (or the viewer’s imaginative reconstruction of this act) to a social and discursive realm if shared experience, dialogue and physical movement. (54)”

Further Reading

Kester, G. (2004). Conversation Pieces: Community + Communication in Modern Art. Berleley: University of California Press

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