Tag Archives: Art

Beauty: Eye of the Beholder or Eye of the Culture?

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the MOSÏACANADA150 exhibit. It was quite an experience to see these wonderful artistic exploits up close and personal. In particular, the crown jewel of the exhibitionMother Earth: The Legend of Aataentsic. Upon seeing it, I was immediately struck by the *inherent* beauty of the exhibit. And then I wondered – is this exhibit beautiful to me because I’ve been trained/influenced through cultural norms as to what’s beautiful or is the exhibit actually, inherently beautiful?

As it happens, I’m not the first one to have such a wondering:

The nature of beauty is one of the most enduring and controversial themes in Western philosophy, and is—with the nature of art—one of the two fundamental issues in philosophical aesthetics.

So, it looks like I’ve stumbled upon a fight of the centur(ies)? Here’s a bit more from the above link:

Beauty has traditionally been counted among the ultimate values, with goodness, truth, and justice. It is a primary theme among ancient Greek, Hellenistic, and medieval philosophers, and was central to eighteenth and nineteenth-century thought, as represented in treatments by such thinkers as Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, Burke, Kant, Schiller, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Hanslick, and Santayana. By the beginning of the twentieth century, beauty was in decline as a subject of philosophical inquiry, and also as a primary goal of the arts. However, there were signs of revived interest by the early 2000s.

The article on Stanford’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy begins with the quintessential question (and the very same one that I had): is beauty objective or subjective? The discussion is fascinating, especially if you’re into heady quotes from philosophical giants like Hume and Kant. I recognize that not everyone will geek out on this, so let’s skip to the penultimate paragraph [Emphasis Added]:

Alexander Nehamas, in Only a Promise of Happiness (2007), characterizes beauty as an invitation to further experiences, a way that things invite us in, while also possibly fending us off. The beautiful object invites us to explore and interpret, but it also requires us to explore and interpret: beauty is not to be regarded as an instantaneously apprehensible feature of surface. And Nehamas, like Hume and Kant, though in another register, considers beauty to have an irreducibly social dimension. Beauty is something we share, or something we want to share, and shared experiences of beauty are particularly intense forms of communication. Thus, the experience of beauty is not primarily within the skull of the experiencer, but connects observers and objects such as works of art and literature in communities of appreciation.

So, maybe my writing of this post about “Mother Earth” is a way of sharing the experience with all of you or inviting you to share the experience with me. If you live in the Ottawa-area, you’ve still got 6+ weeks to visit Jacques-Cartier Park and enjoy the ‘beauty’ in all its splendour.


Sometimes, You Really Never Know What the Day Will Bring

Tonight was a bit unexpected. One event (the apartment across the hall having its floors finished) led to a series of events that caused me to end up at a place I probably wouldn’t have foreseen going to, at the start of the day. Since the smell in my apartment was unbearable, after class, I ended up on a roundabout walk looking for a place to eat.

My original plan was just to grab something quick nearby and then head to the Starbucks to catch up on things. Well, that didn’t happen. After walking for about 2 miles, I ate dinner at a local Chili’s, but not before finding a rather artsy place. From the outside, the artsy place looked like it was more a café than it was a place to eat, so that’s why I walked to the Chili’s.

After scarfing down some Shrimp tacos, I headed back to the artsy place, where it also happened to be Open Mic night! (So much for catching up on things, right?) I had a fantastic time. Sure, my plan was to catch up on things, but sometimes, you have to roll with things and let life take you where you’ve got to be. Not only did I have a great time, I’ve found a local artsy place that I can walk to whenever I’m in the mood for that kind of vibe.

Two more things I want to say:

1. The place I went to Epicure Cafe. Fantastic place. I highly recommend it. It’s not the kind of place you’d expect to find in a strip mall, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised. They are highly rated on Yelp! and were feature in Northern Virginia Magazine!

2. I had never seen someone “be” a one-man band. It was captivating and I have a lot of respect for someone who can keep track of all the different things you’d have to keep track of in order to play a one-man band — and play it well! If you’ve never seen a one-man band, here’s a great example:


Art Imitating (Rather, Predicting?) Life

I was reading this past week’s edition of The Economist and came across an . Specifically, the article was addressing how 3D printing was (or could) change the face of manufacturing. If you’re not familiar with 3D printing, it is exactly like it sounds: printing in 3D. From : “3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file.”

As I sat there listening to  gnaw on a stick, I found myself looking beyond the yard where my eyes landed on the railroad tracks. Tracks that have been there for nearly 150 years. Tracks that were the focal point of commerce for quite some time. Then I thought, how the railroad was a revolution in its day — how it took over for the horse and buggy. But the railroad wasn’t the end of the evolution of transportation. Later came the invention of the car and the invention of the plane.

In briefly reflecting on how , I couldn’t help but think of how 3D printing could be just as revolutionary as some of these other inventions through history. And in thinking about 3D printing — specifically — I couldn’t help but think of Star Trek. Do you remember the To refresh your memory, a few of YouTube clips: , , and  (though this last one is a clip of it malfunctioning). There’s been a lot written about how Star Trek has presaged inventions that later came to be (). I might add 3D printing to that list (or any), too.

The thing that really got me thinking, though, was when I compared the to the 3D printer (or replicator). People who know what life is like without the computer often express their disbelief for how small the computer is when compared to its ancestor. “It used to take up a whole room! Now,I can put it in my pocket!” They would exclaim. There’s no doubt that the computer has evolved a great deal from its early days, but I wonder if this will be true of 3D printing? Will the cost of having a 3D printer be such that everyone can afford it? Will the speed at which it prints be so fast that people will laugh at how long it used to take for things to print?

The rate at which technology is able to invent something and then invent something that is twice as good at what it first invented is growing exponentially. It’s hard to believe that just over 100 years ago, the was invented. I’m not sure how far 3D printing will go or if it will take off and be as ubiquitous as computers, but I think it most certainly has a chance.