E-Int: “Art, Perception, and the Possibilities of the Body”

Art, Perception, and the Possibilities of the Body

by Alexandros Zographakis
4:30 p.m. 8 March 2007
Pevensey I 1A1

Margaret Boden in Crafts, Perception, and the Possibilities of the Body (British Journal of Aesthetics,Vol.40, 3, July 2000) contrasts ‘art’ and ‘craft’ through specific psychological theories of perception, namely ‘indicative’ and ‘enactive’ ones. The former put an emphasis on thought, memory, and emotion whereas the latter on ‘fundamental’ and ‘primitive’ bodily movements and ‘affordances’. Beden argues that the aesthetic of works of art is captured better by ‘indicative’ theories since they underline ‘highly cerebral skills’, whereas craftworks are mainly appreciated through the enactive framework since they underscore basic bodily movements. However, she concludes that there is no clear boundary between these two classes of artifacts because borderline cases elicit both ‘indicative’ and enactive processes. Although I agree with this conclusion, I argue that it doesn’t follow from the premises since her contrast draws an unintelligible gap in our perception of the world. I employ the enactive theories (Gibson, NoĆ« and O’Regan) in order to sketch an alternative framework which suggests that appreciation of works of art is an equally ‘fundamental’ and ‘primitive’ bodily action, as Boden rightly takes the appreciation of craftworks to be.

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