The art of seeing
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Rick E. Robinson wrote a book called The Art of Seeing, An Interpretation of the Aesthetic Encounter. It was published in 1990.
I was reminded of it when I was thinking about the day before yesterday’s blog, because the final chapter is precisely about helping others to see, or facilitating the aesthetic experience.
Before they get there, Csikszentmihalyi and Robinson establish the idea that the aesthetic experience has similar characteristics to the flow experience: an activity having few or no external rewards.
People play chess, climb mountains, compose music, and do a hundred other non-productive activities not because they expect a result or reward after the activity is concluded, but because they enjoy what they are doing to the extent that experiencing the activity becomes its own reward…called flow because respondents (who were interviewed) used the that term frequently to describe the deep involvement in and effortless progression of the activity.
After exploring the similarities through a qualitative and a quantitative study they go on to reflect on how we might help to facilitate the aesthetic experience. They place the responsibility with the system of artist-art-viewer-curator-context.