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The aesthetics of attentiveness: A philosophy for artists and educators

Resource type
Thesis type
((Thesis)/(Dissertation)) Ph.D.
Date created
Author: Grimm, Erica
The Aesthetics of Attentiveness is the conceptualization and articulation of art-making and aesthetics as a form of understanding born out of mindful attention: an apophatic, epistemological, small humble gesture. Artists create in the contested interstitial spaces between embodied awareness, sense perception, imagination and reason; enthusiasm, dream, and disaster; affect, intuition, and intellect; wordless, timeless, experiences of unknowing and those ‘known’ through our embodied existence. I conceptualize the Aesthetics of Attentiveness as an active philosophical performative practice of inquiry. I articulate the importance of the stop, the necessity of paying attention, the fecundity of self-emptying, the risk of liminal flow, and the surprise of surfacing into wide-awakeness. Through these chapter-headings I proclaim the Aesthetics of Attentiveness as a generative pedagogical process. I articulate the three stages of creative liminality: a recognition that to come to the act of making requires three stages of embodied engagement; the rituals of self-emptying; the liminal space of creation; and the reflective act of seeing again what the artist has come to understand through creating. This dissertation is a philosophical poetic performative inquiry into art-making practices and aesthetics as conducted in my studio. Fueled by my art-making, research and teaching practices, I understand art as enacted by an embodied maker, made manifest through the material experiential realm and as received through another body, creating a web of culturally mediated affective, sensory and intellectual encounters. Art expresses and fosters insight in materialized experiential rather than propositional language; art enacts meaning and negotiates insight by plunging into the oceanic unknown, trusting the apophatic abyss, the liminal silent gap. The Aesthetics of Attentiveness understands art as a practice of self-emptying paying attention; active receptivity and opening oneself to awareness that stops hasty conceptualization, incomplete categorization, premature conclusions: the habits of thought that blind us. Embodied self-emptying attention is at the heart of the relationship between aesthetics and ethics, releases energy to fuel the making, and is celebrated as key to being wide awake.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Richmond, Stuart
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