so my lasting musing on aesthetic was a bit melodramatic and esoteric.
it's true that aesthetic is a holistic phenomenon, with many factors
and subtlties contributing to its gestalt identity. accordingly,
aesthetic is very difficult to deconstruct without demolishing or
perverse its fidelity. it's also true that aesthetic is a very context-sensitive
phenomenon, because it is a matter of subjective taste. mary thinks
her kelly green peacoat to be tres chic and beautiful on rodeo drive,
but in boston on st. patty's day, she is horrified by it. so my
lasting musing proved the point that aesthetics is ephemeral, context-sensitive,
and difficult to deconstruct. point taken. however, a person can
make an aesthetic judgement almost instantaneously. why??
may be hard to explain, but they are easy to recognize! it takes
no time at all for a given person to regard something as beautiful/ugly,
exciting/boring, comforting/foreign. people have personal aesthetics.
things they have be conditioned to regard as beautiful will trigger
cached memories of aesthetic or unaesthetic things from the past.
also, when a subject chooses to regard something as aesthetic, he/she
will necessarily recall to mind the aesthetic context which epitomizes
and enhances the aesthetic perception of that something. so, with
that in mind, what are some examples of aesthetics from the every
listen to different types of music: rock, lounge, techno, classical,
and jazz, to realize different aesthetics. we have no doubt experienced
techno in the excitement of a club, or lounge in the more relaxed
social atmosphere of a bar, or classical on those lazy and inspiring
sunday mornings. it is not even necessary that we had these experiences
in the first person. perhaps we saw a film and associated certain
types of people and places with certain genres of music. when first
experienced (directly or indirectly), music is descriptive rather
than prescriptive.. its aesthetic is a part of the description of
the scene. through further experiences, we may re-encounter the
same music in slightly (but probably not wholly) different contexts.
thus, we begin to mentally carve out an "aesthetic neighborhood"
around a genre of music. this process might be dubbed, "experiential
grounding for aesthetic" once we have defined and grounded
an aesthetic, future encounters with it causes us to create or expect
the appropriate context for it. if encountered out of context, we
must decide if the context is also there, or if we can recreate
the context. if not, we will judge it as inappropriate. music is
one example of taste. here is a more exploratory list and some examples
latin, techno, classical, big band, rock, lounge, house, 80s,
70s, 60s, 1800s, baroque, classical, etc. (not every musical aesthetic
has to have a given name. for example, i might like "emotional"
music which might encompass polyphonic church music, romanticism,
emo, and love songs.)
food: hearty (beef stew, fried chicken), obvious (buffalo wings,
candy), healthy (granola, salads, vegetarian, organic), subtle
(sashimi, wine), indian, chinese, french
people: funny, athletic, down-to-earth, tragically hip, motherly,
young, old, generous, serious, visionaries, ENFP (meyers briggs
technology: simple and easy (netvista web appliance), portable
(pda), cheap (emachines), stylish (apple products, thinkpads),
well designed, good function
home decor: antique/old-fashioned, high tech, minimalist, industrial,
eclectic, practical, wood, child-friendly
profession: well-defined, career-path (ibm), high-paying, high-prestige,
problem-solving-challenging (consulting), independent/creative
(artist, writer), existentialist (philosopher)
language: ebonics, formal, minimalist/avant-garde, pragmatic,
wordy, poetic/dramatic, jargon-speaking
culture: chinese, asian, european, quaker, diasporas
values: christian morals, Machiavellian, amoral, philosophy
animals: dog owner, cat lover, animal lover
lifestyle: party, high-life, practical, predictable, adventurous,
life aspirations: money, learning, art, survive, family and friends,
the above list, which is only a partial snapshot of a small fraction
of those things involved in aesthetics, we can see that aesthetics
is intimately tied to personal identity, and culture. aesthetic
can be a dyadic association, but a person's system of aesthetics
is ultimately their identity.
creating systems that are concerned with aesthetic experience, we
need to match the elements presented to the user to the user's personal
aesthetics and identity, and their current context (for example,
the events of someone's day). we also need to match the elements
so that they are cohesive and compatible.
we define an object by mapping it into an "aesthetic neighborhood"
of related and compatible linked ideas, that may be enough grounding
to use the object as a building block. we can determine the aesthetic
compatibility between objects by assessing the intersections of
their aesthetic neighborhoods, and the intersection with a personal
aesthetics and a person's context.
is the relationship between aesthetic and identity? at the most
granular level, aesthetic can simply be a person's subjective attribution
of beauty to something. the computational representation of aesthetic
discussed here is just a dyadic association between affect and object
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