Assigning Cultural Values by Kjerstin Aukrust


0656ca6a726acfc.jpg Author Kjerstin Aukrust
Isbn 9783631632987
File size 5.2 MB
Year 2013
Pages 298
Language English
File format PDF
Category art


 

Assigning Cultural Values Kjerstin Aukrust (ed.) Assigning Cultural Values Bibliographic Information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available in the internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de. Cover Design: © Olaf Gloeckler, Atelier Platen, Friedberg Printed with financial support from The Research Council of Norway Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Assigning cultural values / Kjerstin Aukrust [editor] pages cm. ISBN 978-3-631-63298-7 1. Social values. 2. Group values (Sociology) 3. Social values-Norway. 4. Group values (Sociology)--Norway. I. Aukrust, Kjerstin. HM681.A84 2013 306--dc23 2013001507 ISBN 978-3-631-63298-7 (Print) ISBN 978-3-653-02928-4 (E-Book) DOI 10.3726/978-3-653-02928-4 © Peter Lang GmbH Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften Frankfurt am Main 2013 All rights reserved. PL Academic Research is an imprint of Peter Lang GmbH All parts of this publication are protected by copyright. Any utilisation outside the strict limits of the copyright law, without the permission of the publisher, is forbidden and liable to prosecution. This applies in particular to reproductions, translations, microfilming, and storage and processing in electronic retrieval systems. www.peterlang.de Table of contents Introduction .......................................................................................................... 7 Part 1: The Aesthetic and Cultural Values of Science ....................................... 13 Size is in the Eye of the Beholder: On the Cultural History of Microfaunae in Seventeenth-Century Europe Adam Dodd ......................................................................................................... 15 Awarding Images, Celebrating Science: The Aesthetics and Aestheticization of Scientific Images in the Wellcome Image Awards Anja Johansen..................................................................................................... 29 Part 2: Challenging the Aestheticization of Sexuality and the Value of Gender Roles...................................................................................... 51 Intimacy and Sexuality in Two Contemporary Norwegian Novels Jørgen Lorentzen and Wencke Mühleisen .......................................................... 53 Politics and Aesthetics in Michel Houellebecq’s Novels Geir Uvsløkk ....................................................................................................... 71 From Hard Bodies to Soft Daddies: Action Aesthetics and Masculine Values in Contemporary American Action Films Anne Gjelsvik ...................................................................................................... 91 The Bearded Ladies of Learning Gry Brandser .................................................................................................... 107 Part 3: Constructing Aesthetic Value ................................................................ 133 Culture by Design: Co-Constructing Material and Meaning Kjetil Fallan ...................................................................................................... 135 5 A Doll’s House as National Tradition: Understanding the Construction of Aesthetic Value Frode Helland and Julie Holledge ................................................................... 165 Art as the Other? Reflections on Craft’s and Fine Art’s Places in the Aesthetic Field Søren Kjørup..................................................................................................... 191 Part 4: The Aesthetics of Places ....................................................................... 207 The King’s Road: Constructing the Modern Landscape Mari Hvattum, Brita Brenna, Torild Gjesvik, and Janike Kampevold Larsen.. 209 The Aesthetics of Borders Johan Schimanski and Stephen F. Wolfe .......................................................... 235 Part 5: Cultural Value in the Museum .............................................................. 251 Collecting Europe: On the Museal Construction of European Objects Stefan Krankenhagen ........................................................................................ 253 Digitising the Valuable – Valuing the Digitised Anne Britt Ylvisåker .......................................................................................... 271 About the authors.............................................................................................. 291 The KULVER Research Programme: The Research Council of Norway’s Programme on Assigning Cultural Values........................................................ 297 6 Introduction The emergence of the microscope in Europe during the early seventeenth century marked the beginning of a scientific revolution whereby the world’s smallest creatures, “microfaunae” such as the microbe, finally became visible. At the time, the microscope was employed to challenge a scalar anthropocentrism that placed inordinate value on the lives and bodies of larger animals at the expense of nature’s minutiae. In his essay on the cultural history of microfaunae in seventeenth-century Europe, which opens this book, Adam Dodd argues that in less than 100 years after the invention of the microscope, what can be referred to as “the microscopic gaze” had seriously and permanently altered our perception of all nonhuman animals: The inherent “greatness” of the biggest creatures was no longer naturally given, nor was the “obvious” insignificance of the smallest creatures to be taken as a certainty. Thus, the very ways in which cultural value, and its attendant aesthetics, was assigned to microfaunae were significantly altered. In this anthology, Dodd’s analysis marks the first example of how cultural and aesthetic values are assigned within different humanities fields. Each of the thirteen essays in this volume, which is divided into five parts, represents a unique “microscopic gaze” into different cultural phenomena, all chosen to shed light on issues related to the assignment of values. Authors of chapters in part one discuss both the aesthetic and the cultural value of science: After Adam Dodd’s introduction to the cultural history of microfaunae in seventeenth-century Europe, Anja Johansen takes us back to our own time and the Wellcome Image Awards, which recognise “the creators of the most informative, striking and technically excellent images among recent acquisitions to Wellcome Images”, according to their own website. These images, chosen by a panel of judges, range from light and electron micrographs to illustrations and medical photography. Johansen shows how the Wellcome Image Awards serve as an interesting example of how scientific images have become objects of aesthetical appreciation, regarded as worthy of public display, and discusses how scientific images are conceived of, presented, and valued. Chapters in part two of this volume challenge the aestheticization of sexuality and the value of gender roles, notably through analyses of contemporary literature and cinema. Jørgen Lorentzen and Wenche Mülheisen show how two Norwegian 7 contemporary novels link intimacy and sexuality with social and collective aspects in new and surprising ways: Vigdis Hjorth’s Hjulsikft (Wheel change) and Geir Gulliksen’s Tjuendedagen (The twentieth day) both challenge accepted and familiar “knowledge regimes” and articulate possibilities and impossibilities of intimacy in contemporary times, thus negotiating existing values and aesthetics related to sexuality. In his essay, Geir Uvsløkk shifts our attention from a Nordic to a French context. He proposes an original take on the aesthetics of Michel Houellebecq, the “enfant terrible” of French literature, by arguing that Houellebecq’s aesthetics and his critique of contemporary society are closely intertwined. In Uvsløkk’s opinion, Houellebecq deliberately creates works of art wherein traditional assignments of aesthetic value are questioned. After these two analyses within the field of literary research, Anne Gjelsvik takes a look at the development of the male hero of modern American action films, showing how gender roles in action movies have changed – and with them the values expressed within the genre. Gjelsvik aims to show how film aesthetics play an important part in creating and challenging gender identity on a global scale, and discusses the cultural values promoted through the new action-hero aesthetic. Gender is also the main focal point of Gry Brandser’s essay; she takes us back several hundred years as she examines how values assigned to the feminine and the masculine played a decisive role in eighteenth-century educational and philosophical discourses. In her analysis of Kant’s Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime, Brandser discusses the use of gendered aesthetic categories in the making of a new, masculine scientific subject, arguing that the close connection between masculine identity and intellectual and aesthetic maturation was to determine women’s contribution to the Enlightenment culture. The third part of the book focuses on how aesthetic value is constructed, exemplified by three very different takes on the matter. First, Kjetil Fallan explores the processes by which aluminium products have been mediated and assigned cultural value through negotiations between technology, design, and market in Norway in the period 1930-1950. His analysis focuses primarily on the design and promotion of aluminium kitchenware; he shows how design becomes the interface through which kitchenware products acquire meaning for consumers and through which cultural value is mediated. From aluminium, Julie Holledge and Frode Helland take us once again back to the literary field, focusing on the construction of aesthetic value in different performances of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. By employing original methods of analysis, they focus on how the predominant tradition of performing the play has been constructed and sustained within its culture of origin. Their analysis of the establishment of the predominant Norwegian tradition of performing the play investigates the cultural and aesthetic values invested in the tradition, as well as the mechanisms that have maintained its 8 value. Finally, Søren Kjørup draws our attention to the relationship between visual arts and crafts after “the modern divide” of the aesthetic field during the period 1500-1750. He discusses the values assigned to the modern Western concept of art and pays particular attention to the fact that crafts have traditionally been valued not only as “the minor arts” in the hierarchy of the modern system of the arts, but as what can be called the “Other” of the fine arts. Kjørup’s perspective involves looking at the possibility of turning the hierarchy upside down and thereby seeing the fine arts as the Other of craft. He thus questions and renegotiates the aesthetic value assigned to both of these concepts. Chapters in the fourth part deal with the aesthetics of places, seen through two Norwegian case studies. Mari Hvattum, Brita Brenna, Torild Gjesvik, and Janike Kampevold Larsen collaborate on an essay that discusses a shift in the perception of the Norwegian landscape, from a domain for the symbolic representation of power into an object of mass consumption. With Jacob Munch’s landscape paintings as a point of departure, the authors look at the aestheticization of the modern Norwegian landscape. Their analysis focuses on landscape paintings and maps ordered by kings; they argue that this material shows a changed conception of the landscape, from the eighteenth century to our own, with Norway’s new Tourist Road as a relevant example. Staying within the frame of the aesthetics of places, Johan Schimanski and Stephen F. Wolfe turn our attention from the landscape to the border, using the Norwegian artist Morten Traavik’s artistic installation Borderlines as a point of departure for discussing the on-going changes in the border concept. This installation consists of two double lines of border posts, one in Oslo and one in the town of Kirkenes, near the Russian border. The authors use this artwork to question how we assign values related to cultural identity. In the fifth and final part, the authors pay attention to how cultural value is in play in modern museums. In his essay, Stefan Krankenhagen touches upon some urgent museological questions, participating in an on-going debate on interconnections between the collecting strategies and the processes of Europeanisation. Many museum curators see their collections as part of a European heritage, although there are no collecting strategies with a European perspective per se; Krankenhagen discusses how cultural value is created, recognised, and challenged in collecting in the museum-specific context. We close our series of “microscopic gazes” with Anne Britt Ylvisåker’s essay on augmented reality. Her point of departure is a case study involving an experiment that uses digital virtual reality technology for exhibition purposes as a substitute for the “real” museum object or artwork. Ylvisåker discusses whether using a three-dimensional digital representation intended for augmented reality is an apt method for museums to collect and exhibit “uncollectable” objects. She explores how value is assigned to digital representations of museum objects in exhibitions and sheds light on the 9 consequences that the assigned value might have for the reception of the digitally augmented museum object. The KULVER programme The originality of this volume, and the unifying thread of its thirteen essays, lies in the analysis of cultural value in light of aestheticization or aesthetic practices. This is not to be understood in a narrow sense as research on aesthetic objects and on understanding of categories, but rather as research on those processes in which aesthetic and cultural values are created, recognised, or challenged. The concept of aestheticization presented in this book goes beyond the distinction between product and object on the one hand, and action and event on the other. This understanding of aestheticization is in line with the principles directing the Research Programme on Assigning Cultural Values (KULVER), the Research Council of Norway’s programme for cultural research for the period 2008-2012. The present anthology marks the end of KULVER’s programme period and its purpose is in that respect to sum up the programme’s main themes and research areas. The prioritised areas of research have been the artistic fields, everyday life, different forms of knowledge, cultural heritage and politics of memory, the construction of identities, and the interaction between artistic fields and other fields of practice. Themes covered in this volume, such as the aesthetic judgement of the border, the valorisation of objects in contemporary European exhibitions, the values at stake in transforming the American action hero, the cultural valuation of aluminium products, the reception of 3D digital representation of artworks, and the valuation and aesthetic function of experiences of intimacy and sexuality in contemporary novels, are all topics representing one or more of KULVER’s prioritised research areas. The purpose of the KULVER programme has been to generate knowledge about how cultural value is changed, displaced, transferred, and acquired. This anthology presents examples of this knowledge through a series of cases studies, which all emphasise the process-oriented, the historically changeable, and that which is complex and controversial in different forms of cultural phenomena, their reciprocal relationships and their connection to social contexts and power in a general sense. The fact that cultural phenomena are assigned value implies that hierarchisation occurs within various sign systems, discourses, and practices, which entails passing judgement on quality and taste. In a process-oriented and multidisciplinary approach like the one offered here, cultural phenomena are not viewed as static dimensions, but rather as factors involved in negotiations and exchanges. By focusing on processes in which aestheticization is prominent, we 10 hope to show how the experience-based, relational, and perceptual aspects of assigning cultural values come into focus. This book presents essays embodying the diversity of the different KULVERprogramme research projects, each with its own perspective on the theme of assigning cultural values while focusing on aestheticization and aesthetic practices. An overview of all the KULVER research projects is given at the end of this book, along with a presentation of the nine members of the KULVER programme board which, acting on behalf of the Research Council of Norway, has been in charge of coordinating the programme. The board has been chaired by Professor Kjersti Bale from the University of Oslo, who has also been a member of the book committee, alongside Professor Erik Hedling from Lund University and Hans Dam Christensen, Dean of Research at the Royal School of Library and Information Science in Copenhagen. On behalf of the book committee, I wish to thank all the contributors, the participants in the KULVER programme, and all those involved in making this book possible. Kjerstin Aukrust, editor 11 Part 1: The Aesthetic and Cultural Values of Science Size is in the Eye of the Beholder: On the Cultural History of Microfaunae in Seventeenth-Century Europe Adam Dodd “After an attentive examination of the nature and fabric of the least and largest animals, I cannot but allow the less an equal, or perhaps superior degree in dignity.”1 Published posthumously in 1758, Jan Swammerdam’s (1637-1680) The Book of Nature is but one example of the extent to which the empirical observation of insects in early modern Europe corresponded with changing notions about the value of subvisible and microscopic life. These changing notions of value were, and remain, intimately tied to the aesthetics – the set of principles concerning the appreciation of beauty in nature – encouraged and enabled by the microscope. Microfaunae (used here to refer to all small and subvisible invertebrates)2 have received comparatively little attention from scholars of cultural history. Even within the rapidly expanding field of animal studies, which prioritizes the cultural relativity of conceptions of nonhuman species, microfaunae constitute only peripheral subjects. Yet, this vast and diverse group of animals represents many significant intersections of nature and culture, vision and imagination, objects and images – in short, the microfaunae do indeed have a rich and demonstrably cultural history. Knowledge about microfaunae represents not only a technological achievement (the invention and improvement of the microscope and microscopical technique), but a cultural achievement as well. For not only is the microscope itself a cultural artifact, but without a “culture of microscopy” within which microscopical practice and the representation of its nonhuman subjects may be collectively organized and evaluated, microscopic discoveries would fail to resonate with the wider culture to which they consistently appeal for veracity, legitimacy, and authority. 1 2 Jan Swammerdam, The Book of Nature; or, The History of Insects; with the Life of the Author, trans. Thomas Flloyd (London: C.G. Seyffert, 1758), 1. I employ the term “microfaunae” to collectively refer to insects and other much smaller invertebrates, including microorganisms, though I appreciate that this is a novel application. In part, the term helps to avoid anachronisms when referring to historical investigations of insects and other microscopic animals, since the terms “insect” and “animalcule” were for some time used to refer to very small animals in general. While I acknowledge that insects and microbes are significantly different animals, the term “microfaunae,” as I use it here, assists in focusing on the range of shared representational conventions to which these animals have been historically subjected. 15 Although this is an essay about practices of observation and representation, it is worth remembering that microfaunae exist outside of representation, independently of our beliefs about them, in the manifold spaces of the material world. Yet it remains the case that knowledge about their anatomy, behavior, and habitat is primarily dependent upon visioning technologies and their attendant representational conventions – especially microscopes and micrographs. This dependency frames microfaunae as thoroughly modern animals and, more broadly, highlights the fact that, as the late veterinary-anthropologist Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence observed, “whenever a human being confronts a living creature, whether in actuality or by reflection, the ‘real-life’ animal is accompanied by an inseparable image of that animal’s essence that is made up of, or influenced by, preexisting individual, cultural, or societal conditioning.”3 To study the cultural history of microfaunae, then, is to turn attention to the “preexisting, individual, cultural or societal conditioning” that informs perceptions of microfaunae themselves. This involves an investigation of the cultural and intellectual contexts within which both written accounts and images of microfaunae have been produced, the ways in which such portrayals have been employed, and the effects such portrayals have had on ways of looking at, and “thinking with,” microfaunae. Integral to this line of inquiry is an acknowledgment of the ways in which cultural value, and its attendant aesthetics, are assigned to microfaunae themselves. In much early modern natural history, microfaunae are figured as natural catalysts of representational practices. In this essay, I want to begin to unpack the ways in which microfaunae became explicated in seventeenth-century Europe, a process I see as resulting from a highly contrived way of looking, in conjunction with rhetorical repertoires devised to instill the practice of microscopy, and the animals it made visible, with wonder and import. Microfaunae and the cultural value of microscopic vision Microfaunal images, intended to reify and enhance understandings of nature’s smallest creatures, notably emerged in Europe in the final quarter of the sixteenth century. Perhaps best exemplified by the Flemish miniaturist Joris Hoefnagel (1542?-1601), these were often devotional images, created prior to the appearance of the microscope, and yet coinciding with a turn towards the systematic study of nature in general. In addition to their refinement of an aesthetics of nature, these late sixteenth-century images, in their emphasis of the “true to life” reproduction 3 16 Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence, “The Sacred Bee, the Filthy Pig, and the Bat out of Hell: Animal Symbolism as Cognitive Biophilia,” in The Biophilia Hypothesis, ed. Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson (Washington DC: Shearwater Press, 1993), 301. of what was seen by the illustrator, also contributed to a new authoritative role for natural history illustration. With the microscope’s use in the early seventeenth century, images of microfaunae and other natural objects came to constitute a form of natural history illustration intended to portray the results of a new way of looking, one that could reveal detail previously invisible to the eye; the epistemological subtext of such illustrations was to align particularity with truth. As the seventeenth century’s most exceptional microscopists understood, productive observation and comprehension of microfaunae require refining a particular way of looking that can interpret imagery that is innately unfamiliar and challenging to the eye. We can think of this way of looking as a “microscopic gaze”: all-seeing, monocular, and omnipotent within its designated visual field, it frames, immobilizes and illuminates its specimen while subjecting it to the absolute, penetrating scrutiny of a disembodied observer. It is this way of looking that the micrograph, as a pedagogical device functioning within what Martin Jay has termed the “scopic regime” of Cartesian perspectivalism, is intended to promote and assist. Jay describes how growing out of the late medieval fascination with the metaphysical implications of light – light as divine lux rather than perceived lumen – linear perspective came to symbolize a harmony between the mathematical regularities in optics and God’s will. Even after the religious underpinnings of this equation were eroded, the favorable connotations surrounding the allegedly objective optical order remained powerfully in place.4 The micrograph and the microscopic “specimen,”5 as products and endorsements of this optical order, are not to be merely glanced at, but rather should be closely and attentively considered, with fixity of purpose, if they are to realise their full potential. There is something of the divine “Eye of Providence” in the subjectivity created for the observer by the microscope and the micrograph during the early modern period. As Stuart Clark notes, “single, unblinking eyes representing the deity looked down panoptically over the contents of many early modern title pages – like the large, vigilant eye of Walter Raleigh’s The history of the world (1614).”6 The motif also appears, significantly, in the frontispiece to microscopist (and discoverer of bacteria) Antoni van Leeuwenhoek’s Arcana Natura Detecta (1695). Facilitating a shift from the Aristotelian scholastic tradition into a new age of experiment and empiricism, the microscopic gaze is artificial vision at its purest (truly 4 5 6 Martin Jay, “Scopic Regimes of Modernity,” in Vision and Visuality: Discussions in Contemporary Culture, ed. Hal Foster (Seattle: Bay Press, 1988), 5-6. From the Latin specimen meaning “something that indicates,” itself from specere meaning “to perceive with the eyes.” The specimen becomes a specimen by being seen as something that indicates. Stuart Clark, Vanities of the Eye: Vision in Early Modern European Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 11. 17 the product of artifice), appearing within a culture that was explicitly adamant that vision was the primary sense through which knowledge of the world was to be attained, even if doubts remained about the possibility of fully understanding ocular vision. In this context, Francis Bacon was merely affirming the obvious when he wrote in The New Organon (1620) that “it is evident that sight holds first place among the senses, as far as information is concerned; and so this is the sense for which we must first find aids.”7 The microscope (like the telescope) was one of these aids, and both devices became literally instrumental in the extension of sight and in the expansion of empire, in the “opening up” of what were routinely conceptualised and described as “new worlds.” Both were instruments which Bacon regarded as “privileged instances” that “open doors or gates.” The metaphor of using these instruments (as if they were keys) to open doors or gates from the space of the visible everyday into the space of the invisible and distant was a particularly useful one, since it functioned to present artificial observations as relatively unproblematic and direct forms of witnessing the world as it really was, countering enduring skepticism about both the authenticity of artificial vision, and the nature and reliability of vision itself. Bacon, while explicitly aware of the fallibility of the human senses, wrote of … microscopes, lately invented, which (by remarkably increasing the size of the specimens) reveal the hidden, invisible small parts of bodies, and their latent structures and motions. By their means the exact shape and features of the body in the flea, the fly and worms are viewed, as well as colours and motions not previously visible, to our great amazement.8 [Emphasis mine] As Wilson notes, “once the microscope became available, the rhetoric essential for justifying its introduction as an instrument of scientific reform was … largely thanks to Bacon, in place and ready for application.”9 The microscopic lens, despite its apparent trickery, did not distort vision, but rather corrected, improved, and extended it. It is something of an understatement, of course, to declare that Bacon did much to set the tone for the production of scientific facts in the seventeenth century. Among Bacon’s many notable followers was Robert Hooke who, later that century, in his “Lectures on Light,” directly addressed ongoing skepticism about the authenticity of artificial vision, asserting that: “[A]ll such objections do only 7 8 9 18 Francis Bacon, The New Organon, ed. Lisa Jardine and Michael Silverthorne (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 171. Ibid. Catherine Wilson, “Visual Surface and Visual Symbol: The Microscope and the Occult in Early Modern Science,” Journal of the History of Ideas 49, no. 1 (1988): 96. proceed from an Ignorance of the Grounds of Opticks and of Vision, we being equally as certain of the Appearances we discover by them, as of those things which are discovered and seen by the naked Eye.”10 The microscope was to be regarded as an artificial extension of the natural eye, conforming to the same optical principles as the eye itself, essentially collapsing the distinction between body and instrument, natural and artificial. Hence, only by abandoning an anthropocentric constancy of scale, and accepting the heterogeneity of any object’s scalar appearances, could one fully appreciate the utility of the new optical order heralded by the new visioning technologies. But the new optical order was not entirely logical, since as Bachelard reminds us, “the man with the magnifying glass – quite simply – bars the every-day world. He is a fresh eye before a new object … the miniscule, a narrow gate, opens up an entire world … Miniature is one of the refuges of greatness.”11 A more fundamental observation can be made about micrographs and the microscopic gaze as they relate to the cultural history of microfaunae, however. In their illustration and advancement of a new way of seeing, micrographs exemplify the socialization of vision itself. As Norman Bryson argues: For human beings collectively to orchestrate their visual experience together it is required that each submit his or her retinal experience to the socially agreed description(s) of an intelligible world. Vision is socialized, and thereafter deviation from this social construction of visual reality can be measured and named, variously, as hallucination, misrecognition, or “visual disturbance.”12 Perhaps the most significant microscopical example of this procedure is the Royal Society’s initial inability to reproduce Leeuwenhoek’s observations of protozoans; for a time, the ontological status of these animals effectively hung in the balance, between visual reality and visual misrecognition. In the overall formulation of microscopic vision, in the conscious arrangement of what is to be looked at, and how it is to be looked at, we have an example of the “socially agreed description of an intelligible world” being radically altered, in conjunction with innovative methods for ensuring a collective orchestration of visual experience within the new optical order. Crucially, this was an optical order that could accommodate the reality of an omnipresent plethora of subvisible and invisible animals, yet one that required attendant rhetorical strategies to persuade addressees that these tiny and often invisible animals were of any importance whatsoever. 10 11 12 In Catherine Wilson, The Invisible World: Early Modern Philosophy and the Invention of the Microscope (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), 216. Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994), 155. Norman Bryson, “The Gaze in the Expanded Field,” in Vision and Visuality: Discussions in Contemporary Culture, ed. Hal Foster (Seattle: Bay Press, 1988), 91. 19 Scale and value in the historical explication of microfaunae The title of this chapter, a pun on the popular English aphorism, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” is offered not only as a humorous play on words, but also as a serious epistemic observation on the subjectivity of scale. As Susan Stewart observes in On Longing, “there are no miniatures in nature; the miniature is a cultural production, the product of an eye performing certain operations, manipulating, and attending in certain ways to, the physical world.”13 An enduring tradition in European culture has been the equation of “largeness” with that which is considerably larger than a mature human body; an anthropocentric worldview that results in skewed evaluations of (for example) nonhuman animals, based on little more than their size in relation to human beings. Moreover, “bigness” has often come to be regarded as indicative of “greatness,” complexity of structure, intelligence, strength, and sentience. By contrast, the miniature has often functioned as the literal and metaphorical opposite of the large. From the early seventeenth century, however, the appearance of even the most mundane and apparently insignificant objects through the microscope began to seriously problematize this duality. This was especially the case with natural objects; as Robert Hooke wrote in his Micrographia (1665): There are but few Artificial things that are worth observing with a Microscope, and therefore I shall speak but briefly concerning them. For the Productions of art are such rude misshapen things, that when view’d with a Microscope, there is little else observable, but their deformity.14 Once the miniatures of nature could be observed as if they were gigantic, the natural miniature itself necessitated revaluation. Hence, one of the major rhetorical implorations of literature dealing with microfaunae has been not only to question a scalar anthropocentrism, oriented by a fixed hierarchy of “big” and “small,” but also to invert it – to position the minutia of nature as magnificent, and in some cases, as “greater” than those animals who vastly outsize them. Perhaps the earliest example of this approach is Pliny the Elder’s passage in Natural History, published around 77 AD, and first translated into English in 1601: “But we marvel at elephants’ shoulders carrying castles, and bulls’ necks and the fierce tossings of their heads, at the rapacity of tigers and the manes of lions, whereas really Nature is to be found in her entirety nowhere more than in 13 14 Susan Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1993), 55. Robert Hooke, Micrographia, or, Some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by magnifying glasses, with observations and inquiries thereupon (London: John Martyn and James Allestry, 1665), 8. 20

Author Kjerstin Aukrust Isbn 9783631632987 File size 5.2 MB Year 2013 Pages 298 Language English File format PDF Category Art Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare Assigning Cultural Values is a collection of thirteen essays focusing on the analysis of cultural value in light of aestheticization or aesthetic practices. Reflecting the fruits of the Research Council of Norway’s comprehensive programme for cultural research (KULVER), this anthology studies cultural phenomena not as static dimensions, but rather as factors involved in negotiations and exchanges. By examining the processes in which aestheticization is prominent, the contributors show how the experience-based, relational, and perceptual aspects of assigning cultural values come into focus. Each of the essays offers unique perspectives on the value given to different cultural phenomena, by focusing on their historically changeable aspects, their reciprocal relationships, and their connection to social contexts and power. Drawing on case studies from the fields of cultural history, aesthetics, literature, film, gender studies, art history and theory, design history, and museology, the collection provides a wide-ranging and multifaceted analysis of how the assignment of cultural values is changed, displaced, transferred, and acquired, and will therefore interest all researchers and students within the field of humanities.     Download (5.2 MB) Women And The Arts: Dialogues In Female Creativity History of Art: A Student’s Handbook Conflict and Development in Iranian Film Supplanting The Postmodern: An Anthology Of Writings On The Arts And Culture Of The Early 21st Century Heroes, Monsters and Values: Science Fiction Films of the 1970s Load more posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *