Talking v Doing – Aesthetics and Experience

by maggie

When I was writing In Search of the Numinous I had in the back of my mind an essay I had written for the contextual studies content of my BA. In the early noughties I learnt how to weave and took indifferent advantage of the library at what is now UCA Farnham. The theory classes I took there articulated the foundations to my understandings of the politics of making, and the relationship between craft and art. In our final summer, after the dissertation, there were more options for study and I chose a Module called ‘Aesthetics and Experience’, because although it had the potential for massive theoretical overburden it was personal and entertaining. This was a stark contrast to some of the proceeding modules that were crammed with historical background.

“Intended as a forum for those students who wish to pursue the critical and theoretical aspects of design and its history, this module focuses on a number of culturally significant texts that demonstrate a variety of positions with regard to the aesthetic experience. From the indulgences of Oscar Wilde to the strictures of modernism, the artistic battle cry to the death of the author and the culture of the copy, the module explores the concepts of value and significance accorded by language.”

So begins the introduction to the Module. In essence we were told to go away and interact with some work of art and then write about it (With the possibilities of lashings of Barthes, Eagleton and sundry tomes on Aesthetics). I had no problem thinking and reading. My struggle was deciding what to write; keeping the word count down to 3500 words. It was frustrating not to be able to examine in a dialogue the things I uncovered while writing the essay, and I hope to soon have the whole thing here, for anyone to react to (TL:DR?).

Since Farnham I have had other experience, with Archaeological Theory* for example, learnt new words like ontology, meme complex, phylogeny and phenomonology; even if I don’t really understand them. Looking back I reallise that the other Modules; Articualating Diversity: Craft and the Negotiation of Identity, Valuing the Handmade: Craft in Thoery and Practice and Introduction to Historical and Critical Contexts have been just as important in shaping my interests and understanding as the more practical elements of my education – why bother struggling to maintain a redundent practice in this modern age?

Going back after an almost ten year  hiatus  will allow me to reavaluate what I have been shown and perhaps better articualte my thoughts. I hope you will accompany me on my journey.


* The MA at the IoA was an attempt at a road map of a craft, an industry. Too big a bite, too small a foundation. We wend our way.

O, yes. I wrote about this.