Contemporary Aesthetics does not publish book reviews.
However, to inform our readers of new publications of interest, we do
publish brief descriptions extracted from information provided by the
publishers. These notices do not necessarily represent the views or
judgment of this journal. Readers are invited to send us such
information about books they think will interest other readers of CA.
Giacomo Fronzi, Philosophical
Considerations on Contemporary Music: Sounding Constellations (Cambridge
Scholars Publishing, 2017), 260 pp.
The musical universe of the twentieth and twenty-first
centuries is a force-field in which styles, instruments, personalities, and
stories can be found that are ascribable to conceptual frameworks that may
differ greatly one from another. Such complexity cannot be traced back to
single theories or all-encompassing interpretations, but may be tackled,
philosophically, starting from certain characteristics. This book identifies
nine such characteristics: namely, extremes, noise, silence, technology, audience,
listening, freedom, disintegration, and new media. Each of these permits us to
open up unforeseen philosophical-cultural paths and interpret, in its
multifarious variety, the developments of contemporary music, profoundly
interwoven with the history of thought, culture and society.
Pavle Levi, Jolted
Images: Unbound Analytic (Eastern European Screen Cultures) (Amsterdam
University Press, 2018),
Jolted Images brings together a large cast of
mainstream and avant-garde cineastes, artists, photographers, comics
creators, poets, and more to reflect on a wide range of phenomena from the
realms of cinema and visual culture in the Yugoslav region, Europe more broadly,
and North America. Far from a staid monograph, the book takes a cue from
filmmaker Dušan Makavejev, who once wrote that there are times when it is
necessary "to jolt art, no matter what the outcome." To that end, the book infuses its
analysis with a playful, creative
transfiguration of its material.
Constance Classen, The
Museum of the Senses: Experiencing Art and Collections (Bloomsbury, 2017),
Traditionally sight has been the only sense with
a ticket to enter the museum. The same is true of histories of art in which
artworks are often presented as purely visual objects. In The Museum of the
Senses, Constance Classen offers a new way of approaching the history of
art through the senses, revealing how people used to handle, smell, and even
taste collection pieces. Topics range from the tactile power of relics to the
sensuous allure of cabinets of curiosities, and from the feel of a Rembrandt to
the scent of Monet's garden. The book concludes with a discussion of how
contemporary museums are stimulating the senses through interactive and
Will Daddario, Barogue,
Venice, Theatre, Philosophy (Springer, 2017), 261 pp.
This book theorizes the baroque as neither a time period nor
an artistic style but as a collection of bodily practices developed from
clashes between governmental discipline and artistic excess, moving between the
dramaturgy of Jesuit spiritual exercises, the political theatre-making of
Angelo Beolco (aka Ruzzante), and the civic governance of the Venetian Republic
at a time of great tumult. The manuscript assembles plays seldom read or viewed
by English-speaking audiences, archival materials from three Venetian archives,
and several secondary sources on baroque, Renaissance, and early modern epistemology
in order to forward an argument for understanding the baroque as a gathering of
social practices. Such a rethinking of the baroque aims to complement the
already lively studies of neo-baroque aesthetics and ethics emerging in
contemporary scholarship on (for example) Latin American political art.
Aesthetic Practice of Cookery, eds. Nicolaj van der Meulen & Jӧrg
Wiesel (Germany: transcript, 2017), 324 pp.
Kitchen, cooking, nutrition, and eating have become omnipresent
cultural topics. They stand at the center of design, gastronomy, nutrition
science, and agriculture. Artists have appropriated cooking as an aesthetic
practice, and cooks, in turn, are adapting the staging practices that go with
an artistic self-image. This development is accompanied by a crisis of eating
behavior and a philosophy of cooking as a speculative cultural technique. The
volume investigates the dimensions of a new culinary
turn, combining contributions from the theory and practice of cooking.
Yuriko Saito, Aesthetics
of the Familiar: Everyday Life and World-Making (Oxford University Press,
2017), 246 pp.
Aesthetics of the
Familiar explores the nature and significance of the aesthetic dimensions
of people's everyday life. Everyday aesthetics has the recognized value of
enriching one's life experiences and sharpening one's attentiveness and
sensibility; however, Yuriko Saito draws out its broader importance for how we
make our worlds, as citizens and consumers. Saito urges that we have a social
responsibility to encourage cultivation of aesthetic literacy and vigilance
against aesthetic manipulation and argues that ultimately, everyday aesthetics
can be an effective instrument for directing humanity's collective and
cumulative world-making project for the betterment of all its inhabitants.
Everyday aesthetics has been seen as a challenge to
contemporary Anglo-American aesthetics discourse, which is dominated by the
discussion of art and beauty. Saito responds to controversies about the nature,
boundary, and status of everyday aesthetic and argues for its legitimacy. Aesthetics of the Familiar highlights
the multifaceted aesthetic dimensions of everyday life that are not fully
accounted for by the commonly held account of defamiliarizing the familiar.
Carsten Strathausen, Bioaesthetics:
Making Sense of Life in Science and the Arts (University of Minnesota
Press, 2017), 305 pp.
In recent years, bioaesthetics has used the latest
discoveries in evolutionary studies and neuroscience to provide new ways of
looking at both art and aesthetics. Carsten Strathausen's exploration of this
emerging field is a comprehensive account of its ideas, as well as a timely
critique of its limitations. Strathausen familiarizes readers with the basics
of bioaesthetics, grounding them in its philosophical underpinnings while
articulating its key components. He delves into the longstanding "two
cultures" problem that separates the arts and the sciences. Seeking to
make bioaesthetics a more robust way of thinking, Strathausen critiques it for
failing to account for science's historical and cultural assumptions. At a time
when humanities departments are shrinking and when STEM education is on the
rise, Bioaesthetics makes vital
points about the limitations of science while lodging a robust defense of the
importance of the humanities.