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Throughout centuries, authors, and all other artists as well, mainly desired to express their talent and were seeking for the best way to reach deeply their audiences’ intellect and soul through emotions – drama, tragedy, poems, essay, etc. – and also questioning. They wanted to leave a legacy that would remain across the ages and some of them managed to do so, throughout the presence of common style that authors adopted, literary movements then have been established. The persistent ones were the ones which have provided the most reflexing, sensing of beauty and affects in the human body!

And this trend, constantly researching for the generation of affects among the audience is still part of the headlines in the literary studies and even in the media studies! Usually, when one refers to the word media, others, and by this I mean man in the street can easily think about distractive entertainment or even information platforms… and in a split of second, literature and media appear to be coming from two different realities for us. However, media artists and searchers, on purpose or not, are currently showing how those two domains can relate.

 

Recently the creation of the Grove, an installation of artworks, has been considered because of the gradual concern for forming intensive experiences wherein participants could daily be charmed with various effects such as spaces, embodiments, and movements. The latter are the core for prompting affects and so, in the frameworks of the Grove, a program would perform, inside a background set up with multiple factors, a dynamic array of lights that are kind of dancing during a short sequence: the Grove being rhythmically and gently changeful, the participants playing with the visual and spatial effects, they end up being dragged into an ecology of flows simply because of the captivated atmosphere. Furthermore, through this process, thanks to the quietness and blossoming perception, people sense interiority and enter into an ‘immersive refuge’… (By the way, speaking of this should remind the present reader of something…). This Grove, with its heterotopia nature, should then represent a minimalistic aesthetic procedure that could bring up a new flow within and between audiences.

As mentioned previously, this aura of quietness, intimacy, and reality alteration can make us recall about the simple fact of reading. Indeed, while reading a captivating book, one is dragged into an imaginary space and readers are under the impression of being engaged or involved into the action. This feeling is very present within the narration of suspense. A couple of years ago, a literary study aimed at finding out the origins of this epiphenomenon, to see if narrative units can be digitally coded. To do so, a large number of texts, wherein suspense is a main component were analyzed. The outcome of this quantitative textual analysis was conclusive: it does exist a strong link between the suspense effect and the textual structure. Indeed, a certain type of semantic fields enables the mechanism of suspense. Also, reportedly, according to the data, suspenseful events occur during vertical movements, or noisy atmosphere, or even in interior spaces inside the narration. Basically, this study has provided a positive feedback to the question: Can affective state of an audience like suspense be quantified by digital humanities? Even when the participants are reading, the more suspenseful the passages are, the slower the reading speed gets: that proves that even though the narration is quite active itself, one creates their own dynamic reading event. The result of this aesthetic experience of reading could be a way out to attempt a social psychology concept. From the study, since suspense, and so do the other types of narrations supposedly, can be digitally coded, it seems like it possesses its own rhythm, a ‘programmed’ code that reaches, shakes out the human feeling and drives them in another reality… and now, one could feel like they go back to the principle of the Grove artworks…

So, afterwards, we have obtained a sort of closed loop… How an outdoors artworks can merge into a sense of interiority? And how books, allegedly based on the authors’ intellect or feelings, can, according to an analysis, be digitally coded? Psychologically-speaking media and literature seem to be related via the affects or let’s say the aesthetic.
Is aesthetic a matter of changeful environment or movement? This trend of movement therefore seems limitless and timeless, when one looks at the two first abstracts, it could be the trigger of the question: can there be a New Aesthetic, independent of movement or changeful environment?

Since the Barrier between bare written-on sheets of paper where narrative processes are operated and media artworks is getting thinner and thinner along the continuous research of the digital humanities, the New Aesthetic introduced by Bruce Sterling seems to blur even more the distinction between real and the digital, the physical and the virtual. It is trying to assemble all kinds of aesthetic activity: herein this is the excitement of the digital and a new relationship between human beings and machines is redefined through visualization, coding, and even perception. The inventor has developed it thanks to his ‘content curation’ that exposes images and information artistically in such a way that the digital gets a physical nature. Then the concept of ‘immaterial physicality’ raises up. The New Aesthetic characterizes the technological properties of the digital by amassing ‘virtual traces of material networks’ and may drive us to a new engagement with the world.

 

Yet, it looks as if the New Aesthetic does not consider the movement to seek for primary impulsions (like this weird feeling that we get while assisting to a suspenseful scene) from the human nature. The two other abstracts apparently have showed media or literature, those artworks, those pieces of art, as a way to make various sensations or perceptions come out from the audiences…because the barrier between physical and digital was quite wide. One could think that the movement’s deed was a procedure to go across that limit. But now, it may be pretty legitimate that the movement is no longer necessary to have access to the aesthetic since the physical-digital duality is vanishing. This new type of aesthetic mainly focuses on the power of observation, and particularly the new dimensionality of the digital networks. Even if it is not specified, one could think of an upgrade of the physical reality where digital art and beauty are promoted.

 

References:

[1] Grove – Creating An Ecology of Flows

by Kate E.S Richards, UWS, Australia.

[2] Suspense: Language, Narrative, Affect

by Mark Andrew Algee-Hewitt, Stanford University, United States of America; Chelsea Davis, Stanford University, United States of America; Abigail Droge, Stanford University, United States of America; Tasha Eccles, Stanford University, United States of America; Laura Eidem, Stanford University, United States of America; Morgan Frank, Stanford University, United States of America; Erik Fredner, Stanford University, United States of America; J.D. Porter, Stanford University, United States of America; Andrew Shephard, Stanford University, United States of America; Hannah Walser, Stanford University, United States of America.

[3] Data Aesthetics, Old and New

by Renata Lemos Morais, Deakin University, Australia.

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