11/30/2016 _Perspective

Aesthetic Experience

Visual Culture as the Masterpiece of Nonhumanity

This essay proposes a reflection on aesthetic experiences and their implications on the nonhuman for the study of culture. It focuses on visual culture as one of the representative means for a life of coexistence. In the present day, images search for an agreement with innovation as the new reality of culture. However, the life experiences offered by the digital world are being realized through the new senses offered by the media. Therefore, can today’s realities of visual culture be considered nonhuman?

Aesthetics proposes to explain the interaction of human beings with space through human perception. This space extends itself to the digital dimension as a representation of human agencies. Images are built by constantly creating new principles of technology, by adopting a sense of innovation. These applied techniques assist in designing the environment for future generations and in conditioning transformations of the cultural order. Such events connect creativity and technological determination by way of the socio-historical sense of rationality.

Aesthetic experience has been considered one of the representative means of human life. It has always been mentioned in cultural studies, most recently due to the power of images on the Internet. However, the concept of the nonhuman as a digital process in relation to aesthetic experience has directly changed our lives through the new senses offered by technology. For this reason, we can ask the question: Can today’s realities of visual culture be considered nonhuman or regarded as part of the heritage of humanity? Perhaps the new practices in art have categorically changed the sense of tradition related to the concept of the nonhuman. Therefore, this affects neither animal life nor the natural environment; however, the artificial world is affected, as it has been created by humans through artifices and inventions. In this regard, the concept of the nonhuman could be considered collective intelligence.

Therefore, we can first apply this concept to the artist’s thinking and then to his art. Finally, we can also apply it to the artwork and the effect that it creates. On the whole, art can be understood in terms of innovations in humanity’s history and by the comprehension of our own evolution in relation to the concept of the nonhuman.

The opposition of nature and culture involves interactions between the human and nonhuman. In this regard, two aspects are important in cultural transformation: technique, as the notion of art, and human beings.

Therefore, many possibilities of individual interactivity have been generally realized in their own socio-cultural environments through the techniques used in artworks. In such processes, realization always looks for possible creativity that is linked to the diversity of art configurations.

By analyzing the configurations of human social life throughout the evolutionary history of humanity, we find that ‘technology transfer’ has always been an interaction between nature and culture, for all possible realizations of human civilization. As stated by Wolfgang Welsch, with respect to Darwin’s evolutionary aesthetics, an aesthetic attitude is not a human invention; rather, it had already been manifested either in animal systems or the prehuman condition before our existence. [1] Hence, it is useful to apply this in context as it relates to the subject of the nonhuman. Aesthetic practice is a feeling related to the nonhuman, and human cultural evolution is related to an ability to feel pleasure and appreciate beauty.

The continuum of nonhuman and human aesthetics remains to be observed in Darwinian fundamentals. Therefore, Welsch suggests an essential “human aesthetics against sociobiological reductionism.” [2] He demonstrates the progression from beauty as a physiological effect without aesthetic function to an aesthetic sense. While the context of the evolution of species is the struggle for life, the evolution of our brain as the source of an aesthetic sense in human culture, in terms of the differences between nonhuman and human pleasure, is beyond the perception of the beautiful. Although pleasure in beauty is a sexual desire for animals, it is only a perception of the beautiful in an aesthetic sense for humans. Furthermore, I would argue that the related fitness that results in both animal and pre-human or human environments enables innovation with regard to the acquisition of management skills. Moreover, it has been an underlying support for environmental management and control through human evolution as the feeling of freedom, and from my point of view, such an innovation as the feeling of freedom is a pleasurable and beautiful thing and came about in response to all the struggles of life. This view accords with Welsch’s statements on the extension and refinement involved in Darwin’s aesthetic attitude. The perception of the beautiful is not accessible to all animals. Beauty as pleasure is realized through sexual experience, and beautiful things that inspire the pleasure of beauty involve sexual persuasion. More-over, in terms of this condition in animals, such a transference of beauty from body to artifacts is a medium for overcoming their natural limitations. I agree with Welsch about Freud’s theory of sublimation as “the one great motor of human cultural development.” [3] In this way, we can understand the origin of human aesthetics in our own condition as animal species. We are concerned with the invention of culture, i.e., building artificial environments that matter to non-human entities with social effects. In such a way, aesthetic practices can be realized by such arts as painting, sculpture, architecture, design, film, literature, and music.

As the visual information in the figure below demonstrates, there have been similarities in the attitudes of human beings throughout their evolution regarding the creation of objects that reflect the ideas of mobility and self-extension.