International Congress of Aesthetics
What can it mean to live in an aesthetic regime or: Where does art happen?
The french philosopher Jacques Rancière referes to the existence of a so called aesthetice regime. The description of the aesthetic regime has so much political potential because it opposes a world in which everything serves for something. In the aesthetic regime, the hierarchy of genres and forms of representation is destroyed. The hierarchy is replaced by an equality of artworks, which have become equal inhabitants of a common sensorium. In the equal coexistence, democracy realizes itself in art. Why? The equality of all objects denies any necessary relation between a particular form and a certain content. The aesthetic regime of art is added to the previous regimes. Rancière called them the ethical and the representative regime of art. Thereby the aesthetic regime of art is characterized by an inner contradiction, by a paradox. As the boundaries of art dissolve and all activities can be identified as art, a place of art that is separated from all other activities asserts itself and makes it possible to identify art as art. The aesthetic regime of the arts confirms the absolute peculiarity of art and at the same time destroys every pragmatic criterion of this peculiarity.
Rancière records to Kant's or Schiller's “Neither Yet”: the aesthetic judgment is not subjected to the law of reason, nor to the law of perception. They both impose an object of volition. The aesthetic experience abolishes both laws at the same time. It therefore
removes the balance of power that normally structures the experience of the discerning, acting, or willing subject.
The place where the dissolution of the opposites of acting and thinking seems currently possible is the arts, because in its production thinking materializes. The arts are performative, translating an idea into an activity, into an expression or a form, into a sensual experience. To do this art needs to be both in society and at a distance from it. It has to absorb experiences from society and then process them in a position opposite of society: we are confronted with a form of reflection. At the same time, art can develop a suggestion from this distance to society, and introduce it into society again, implement it, and thus absorb it. By being able to be both inside and outside society, art can reconfigure the sensual, which means: it can be political. Art is primarily political in that it creates a spatio-temporal sensorium through which certain modes of being together or separated, of beeing inside or outside, of beeing opposite or in the middle are determined. Art happens in the scope of freedom. This is one possible answer to the introducing question. But to make “it” happen, we have to step deep into an elaborated discourse which surrounds the field of aesthetics, politics and the poetics of space. Following the work of Jacques Rancière and Gaston Bachelard we will aproach the main question of our topic and start to give deepening explanations on the concept of the aesthetic regime and the effects on humans.