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This article focuses on an important aspect of aesthetics in the context of the Anthropocene: the situatedness of aesthetic techniques and operations within earth’s (changing) materiality. Aesthetics is not only a way of making sensible but also contributes ontologically to the world it makes sensible. In this view aesthetics does not rely on a subject’s capacity to apprehend the world as a perceptually objectifiable entity. Focusing on works by Jason deCaires Taylor (Anthropocene and La Gardinera de la Esperanza) and Robert Smithson (Spiral Jetty), the authors interrogate how artistic engagements with anthropocenic materiality and temporality have the potential to articulate a double bind between aesthetics and ontology. Both artists not only allow recipients to be confronted with complex earthly entanglements but also have a material and aesthetic impact on their respective sites. Discussing deCaires Taylor’s and Smithson’s works, the authors argue that the artists’ aesthetics is not only a way of granting experiential access to an earth that resists objectification but also a manifestation of the processes through which earth’s materiality transforms throughout time.
Environmental Humanities – Duke University Press
Published: Nov 1, 2021
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