Fine-tuning our senses with (sound) art for aesthetic experience

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After a long and widespread overlapping, in traditional accounts of aesthetic experience, between the realms of the artistic and the aesthetic, it’s becoming increasingly consensual that not only artworks, but also non-artistic objects - natural phenomena, natural landscapes and human environments, perhaps even everyday activities - can be the focus of valuable, arousing, cognitively and emotionally engaging sensory experiences. Not merely do I advocate this wider scope of aesthetics, but believe that some contemporary artistic practices actively contribute both to enquire and intensify the possibility of having such aesthetic experiences. In this presentation, I will particularly focus (but could, of course, have chosen different practices) on what has been recently called ‘sound art’, artistic practices (performances, installations, sound-walks) that either use sound (not necessarily musical and most often non-musical) as a medium or produce pieces about sound, acoustic experience and aurality. Unlike music, usually based on abstract structures (melody-rhythm-harmony), ‘sound art’ is mostly concerned with concrete (whether acoustical, electronic, found or environmental) sounds, their materiality, sensuous character and specific connection with space and time, thus appealing to sensory, relational, contextual and contingent features of actual experience. The listener/beholder/participant of such pieces is not only invited to sharpen her (auditory and indeed multimodal) perception of the event and/or environment but also to enhance her awareness concerning the way she’s being affected by the experience. This sensitized subject of the experience may (eventually) become more open to perceive and let herself be aesthetically affected by natural and human aural environments, everyday practices, social relations and events and thus become more attentive and engaged with aesthetic experiences in general. I will try to show that this potential sensitization derives from the intensified focus of perception and the singular, emotional and dynamic character of the aesthetic experiences provided by such artistic sound-based practices.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2017
EventAesthetic Experience: Affect and Perception: Nordic Society of Aesthetics' Annual Conference - University of Bergen, Bergen , Norway
Duration: 8 Jun 2017 → …


ConferenceAesthetic Experience: Affect and Perception
Period8/06/17 → …


  • aesthetic experience
  • aesthetic/artistic
  • sound art
  • environment
  • everyday

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    Fonseca, N. (2017). Fine-tuning our senses with (sound) art for aesthetic experience. Paper presented at Aesthetic Experience: Affect and Perception, Bergen , Norway.