"Not since Thoreau has an American author displayed such a profound appreciation for the aesthetics of nature; but, unlike Thoreau, Berleant has designed a program for allowing others to join in on that appreciation."
--E. F. Kaelin, Professor of Philosophy, Florida State University
Environmental aesthetics is an emerging discipline that explores the meaning and influence of environmental perception and experience on human life. Arguing for the idea that environment is not merely a setting for people but fully integrated and continuous with us, Arnold Berleant explores the aesthetic dimensions of the human-environment continuum in both theoretical terms and concrete situations. Insisting on the need to reconceptualize environment and recognize its aesthetic implications, he pursues a variety of topics and approaches to environmental aesthetics.
Aesthetic experience, maintains Berleant, is always contextual. Recognizing that humans, along with all other things, inhabit a single intraconnected realm, he names the quality of engagement as the foremost characteristic of environmental perception. Berleant moves from natural to nonnatural environments, suggesting that the aesthetic aspect of any human habitat is an essential part of its desirability. From outer space to the museum, from architecture to landscape, from city to wilderness, this book discovers in the aesthetic perception of environment the reciprocity that constitutes both person and place.
"Arnold Berleant's Aesthetics of Environment poses an important path for philosophy to walk down--instead of environmental ethics, where what is right and wrong in nature is discussed, he goes after the difficult destination of deciding how to articulate what is beautiful in the nature we want, not the nature we see."
--Human Ecology Review
"Berleant's new environmental aesthetics is a challenge not only to the philosophers but also to the practitioners of environment-making. With rich illustrations and freedom from technical jargon, Berleant applies his new aesthetics to analyzing and solving the practical problems concerning various environmental designs of today."
--Canadian Philosophical Review
"A pioneering contribution to this discipline. It raises a large number of challenging questions and suggests new dirrections in the analysis of the environment as an aesthetic category."
--Michael H. Mutias, Professor of Philosophy, Millsaps College
A new statement of how "beauty" in nature is understood and appreciated.
Aesthetic experience is one of the fundamental ways that we develop a relationship to our natural surroundings. Emily Brady provides a comprehensive study of this type of experience and the central philosophical issues related to it, developing her own original theory of aesthetic appreciation of nature. She provides useful background to the current debate and an up-to-date critical appraisal of contemporary theories.
The context of the contemporary debate is laid out through a discussion of aesthetic experience and aesthetic qualities; early theories of aesthetic appreciation of nature, including the beautiful, the sublime, and the picturesque; and differences between artistic and environmental appreciation and interpretation. Brady situates her own approach in relation to a set of noncognitive accounts of appreciation. Her "integrated aesthetic" brings together various features of appreciation, including the senses, emotion, and imagination, with a reappraisal of the concept of disinterestedness. These ideas are further developed within the more practical domains of aesthetic judgment and education of the environment and through an examination of the role of aesthetic value in environmental conservation.
Arnold Berleant of Long Island University, a pioneer in this area of research, has declared Brady’s work, "admirably comprehensive coverage of the subject." Julie C. Van Camp of California State University, Long Beach, has said, "The bibliography is priceless. . . . The discussions of such philosophers as Kant and Dewey seem plausible and understandable to an audience of students and the educated public." This book will be valuable to readers interested in such wide-ranging subjects as philosophy, aesthetics, ethics, ecology, conservation, environmental policy-making, geography, and landscape architecture.
Winner of the Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Literature
An audacious, interdisciplinary study that combines the burgeoning fields of digital aesthetics and eco-criticism
In Animal, Vegetable, Digital, Elizabeth Swanstrom makes a confident and spirited argument for the use of digital art in support of ameliorating human engagement with the environment and suggests a four-part framework for analyzing and discussing such applications.
Through close readings of a panoply of texts, artworks, and cultural artifacts, Swanstrom demonstrates that the division popular culture has for decades observed between nature and technology is artificial. Not only is digital technology not necessarily a brick in the road to a dystopian future of environmental disaster, but digital art forms can be a revivifying bridge that returns people to a more immediate relationship to nature as well as their own embodied selves.
To analyze and understand the intersection of digital art and nature, Animal, Vegetable, Digital explores four aesthetic techniques: coding, collapsing, corresponding, and conserving. “Coding” denotes the way artists use operational computer code to blur distinctions between the reader and text, and, hence, the world. Inviting a fluid conception of the boundary between human and technology, “collapsing” voids simplistic assumptions about the human body’s innate perimeter. The process of translation between natural and human-readable signs that enables communication is described as “corresponding.” “Conserving” is the application of digital art by artists to democratize large- and small-scale preservation efforts.
A fascinating synthesis of literary criticism, communications and journalism, science and technology, and rhetoric that draws on such disparate phenomena as simulated environments, video games, and popular culture, Animal, Vegetable, Digital posits that partnerships between digital aesthetics and environmental criticism are possible that reconnect humankind to nature and reaffirm its kinship with other living and nonliving things.
Believing that artistic expression can and does play an important role in changing the way we perceive our relation to the world we live in, art critic John Grande takes an in-depth look at the work of some very unusual environmental artists in the United States, Canada, and -Europe.
Dealing with everything from materials to the politics of curatorship, from the permanence of art works to the artist's role as cultural critic, Balance Art and Nature takes theory into action as it critically examines the works of Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley, Armand Vaillancourt, Bill Reid, Carl Beam, Kevin Kelly, Ana Mendieta, James Carl, Patrick Dougherty, Keith Haring, and others. What emerges is a viable socio-environmental framework for evaluating contemporary art and insights into art's actual and potential roles.
"Grande's commentaries represent an important contribution to the theory of art."--Claude Levi-Strauss
"A call to reawaken creativity in this time of alienation."--Antony Gormley
"Encourages us to rethink what it means to be an artist in a time of global eco-crisis."--Suzi Gablik, The Re-enchantment of Art
"Makes unexpected connections giving new insights into contemporary art."--Public Art Review
"Grande's book contains a lot of ideas, all of which are thought-provoking."--Globe and Mail
"Details makes this book convincing."--Books In Canada
"Grande's ideas and style are fresh, sincere, intuitive, lively and compelling."--Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics
"Offers interesting parallels between different aspects of public art."--Espace Sculptur
Writer and art critic John Grande's reviews and feature -articles have been published in art magazines and catalogues internationally. He is author of Intertwining: Landscape, Technology, Issues, Artists (Black Rose Books), Nils-Udo: Art with Nature (Wienand Verlag), and Art Nature Dialogues (SUNY Press).
Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Creation (Literary, artistic, etc.)
Art, Modern -- 20th century.