Note: If you see this text you use a browser which does not support usual Web-standards. Therefore the design of Media Art Net will not display correctly. Contents are nevertheless provided. For greatest possible comfort and full functionality you should use one of the recommended browsers.

Themesicon: navigation pathAesthetics of the Digitalicon: navigation pathEndo-Aesthetics
Claudia Gianetti


From ontological discourse to systemic argumentation


In view of the differences existing between aesthetic paradigms of modernism and postmodernism, and those of media art especially, the radical transformation brought about by the questioning of ontological and phenomenological concepts like subject, reality, and truth becomes obvious. The consequence of this transformation is a revision of the traditional aesthetic concepts of author, beauty, work of art, original, and viewer. In the twentieth century, proponents of various aesthetic theories attempted to fathom and define the nature of art, and under these premises devoted themselves to an ontological discourse. At the same time, most aesthetic theories concentrated on specific demarcated areas. In summary it can be said that in a large part of modern and contemporary aesthetic theories the reflection upon artistic creation is limited to evaluating concrete aspects bound to the ‹object› (such as the formal solution of the work, or the examination of its structures), to investigating the conceptual or critical values inherent in the work, or to semantic criteria.


In most cases the aesthetic models are able to include all the arts.

The fact that art continuously questions itself has removed it from the grasp of this universal essentialism. Human social systems are constituted as consensual and dialogic networks, and are therefore coordination systems in language. Art comes into being and exists within this dialogic network, both in the domain of interpersonal interactions as well as that between the latter and a context or medium. Art, then, can neither imply a ‹particular› type of object or of autonomous meaning, nor represent an observer-independent experiential form. No less so than science, religions, philosophies or ideologies, therefore, art/system and aesthetics are understood to be different consensual descriptive domains which are cognitive in nature. [2] Outside this social consensual domain existing in language, there is no art—and no autonomous object, either—that acquires meaning such as it is. It is the observer (or community) who, after a operation of distinction that takes place within a collective consensual domain, applies time-dependent criteria in order to ascertain the significance relationships of an object. The description of a work or action as art, and

icon: next page