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Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 1, 2018

Aesthetics and Philosophies of Art

Fay Zika
Pages 359-364

The Revival of Multimodal Aesthetics

One of the recent areas of discussion in aesthetics and the visual arts is the tension between the so-called “ocularcentric” tradition, on the one hand, and the tendency to move in a multisensory, multimodal direction, on the other. My aim in this paper is to bring out this tension by tracing it in a number of moments; firstly, in the late 19th-early 20th century discussion, concerning the “total art work” and the contribution of synaesthesia; secondly, the reaction to what Clement Greenberg called the modernist “reduction to the visual”, expressed in a variety of multimodal art forms in the latter half of the 20th century. The weight of my paper is given to two contemporary discussions with significant repercussions in aesthetics: a. the opposition between “disembodiment” and “embodied immersion” in the area of new media; and b. the debate between modularity and plasticity of perception in neuroscience. The conclusion to which I am led is that the possibilities of sensory integration offered by new media and of sensory plasticity - offered by synaesthesia - suggest new creative ways in which our senses may interact and enhance our experience of the world, as well as elucidate artistic creativity and aesthetic appreciation.

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