Dr Jonathan Friday (University of Kent)
Monday 13th May 2019, 5pm-7pm in Keynes Seminar Room 4, University of Kent
In 1744 James Harris, echoing the Earl of Shaftesbury and prefiguring Lessing’s Loacoon, wrote of pictures that they are ‘of necessity a punctum temporis’, which is to say, they are incapable of representing an interval of time. It has been argued by Gombrich and others that this view is simply contradicted by the evidence of paintings that represent movement, change or events unfolding over time. This paper considers Gombrich’s argument against the punctum temporis view of pictures, Robin Le Poidevin’s reconstruction of it, and the examples that both assume are inconsistent with the punctum temporis view. It is argued that neither argument achieves what its author claims of it, and that, properly understood, the punctum temporis view of pictures is perfectly consistent with the representation of movement and temporally extended events.
Wednesday 3rd April 2019, 5pm – 7pm
Exhibitions and Museums: When are They Art?
Marcel Broodthaer’s Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles (1968) confronted the public with an exhibition that criticized traditional museum practices by means of appropriating them. This work was explicitly intended to qualify as both an exhibition and a work of conceptual art. In this talk, I explore the hypothesis that the artwork status of some exhibitions might instead have remained, so far, unnoticed, even by their makers. To illustrate my view, I analyze the exhibition of pre-and proto-historic artifacts at Berlin’s Neues Museum and argue that such exhibition is a work of site-specific installation art.
Wednesday 13th March 2019, 5pm – 7pm
Three dominant theories explain how ethical properties determine aesthetic ones in artworks. Autonomism denies any determining relation. Moralism affirms one according to the valence constraint: ethical merits only ground aesthetic merits, ethical flaws only ground aesthetic flaws. Immoralism affirms one too, but denies the valence constraint. The question these theories answer, I argue, can be (and knowingly or not has been) read in one of two ways: the ‘counterfactual’ and the ‘as-such’ way. Each reading requires a different kind of answer: a counterfactual or an as-such theory, respectively. I argue that if one accepts the so-called qua problem, as-such theories run into a dilemma: they either rely upon dialectically unhelpful (if not question-begging) considerations, or else collapse into counterfactual theories. This leaves the counterfactual reading, to which I show immoralism is the obvious answer. The discussion has various significant consequences for the aesthetic moralism debate as a whole that I lay out at the end.