Art and ornithology

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Here’s a video of a very interesting International Arts Movement lecture by Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin on the topic of art and phenomenology. She starts (somewhere around the 2 minute mark) with the famous and brilliant quote from – of course! – Barnett Newman: “Aesthetics is to artists as ornithology is to birds.” Things ‘take off’ from there (sorry). I recently found out Chaplin used to be the ‘philosophical aesthetician’ at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto where I have taken a number of courses, sometime between the tenures of Calvin Seerveld and my current prof Dr. Rebekah Smick.

ICS is a great place, very small but a hotbed of interesting philosophical activity… this semester they’re offering a film and faith course with the insightful and incisive Brian Walsh (best known as a huge Bruce Cockburn fan and author of “Colossians Remixed”).

If you’re at work and can’t watch a long video, here’s a great article on similar themes of beauty and creativity from The Other Journal > “From Vision to Touch: Restoring Beauty to Lived Experience”

Speaking of Barnett Newman, as I always seem to be these days, here’s a clip of the man himself from the documentary “Painters Painting.” It features Newman talking about his breakthrough with “Onement I” (1948), his signature “zips,” and the creative process. In connection with Chaplin’s comments, this made me think about art in terms of how it emerges from both the body and soul of the artist, and how aesthetics (both “theological” and philosophical) need to start with “human feeling and experience.” Otherwise, all this talk about art will fail to be, in Newman’s metaphor, “for the birds.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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