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Visual culture and an aesthetics of embodiment

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The article provides both theoretical support to and a historical perspective on the recent shift in art education towards consideration of contemporary, global sites of visual culture, while simultaneously seeing this as problematic. Cultural sites employing violence and highly sexualized imagery are conceptualized in terms of an aesthetics of embodiment. The article begins with an examination of modernist aesthetics as derived from Kant and his followers that focused on a narrow range of perceptual sensations and ignored the full range of bodily sensations. By contrast, an aesthetic of embodiment reintegrates aesthetics with vulgar, crude, and sensationalist experiences. Historically, it is linked to medieval carnival, and the return of carnival in mediated form is linked to a hedonistic consumer body. The case is made that an aesthetics of embodiment is a necessary theoretical construct for dealing with many cultural sites of corporate, global capital.
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Keywords: aesthetics; embodiment; modernism; popular culture; visual culture

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Illinois

Publication date: April 1, 2005

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  • The International Journal of Education through Art is an English language journal that promotes relationships between art and education. The term 'art education' should be taken to include art, craft and design education. Each issue, published three times a year within a single volume, consists of peer-reviewed articles mainly in the form of research reports and critical essays, but may also include exhibition reviews and image-text features.

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