abstract art, a systems view

Posts Tagged ‘Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

facilitating the aesthetic encounter

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I have written before about the role of the curator in facilitating the aesthetic encounter (I borrowed the term from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Rick E. Robinson, The Art of Seeing) and sometimes gone on a bit about how some people seem to be able to see optical effects (for want of a better term) more easily than others.


I noticed something similar on holiday recently, in relation to a ‘natural’ occurrence. When this wave breaks you see a miniature rainbow in the spray. Some people could see it easily as it occurred, some could see it when it was pointed out to them, others just couldn’t see it even after it was pointed out and with repeated viewing. But then, they could see it when re-presented on this short video.

I wonder if it would it be correct to say that the curatorial skill required to facilitate the experience is that of pointing/describing,with some interpreting and little, if any, of judging.

Written by Andy Parkinson

July 30, 2011 at 7:05 am

The art of seeing

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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.

the aesthetic experience as a system

Written by Andy Parkinson

June 8, 2011 at 8:24 am