Family Resemblances

As we move closer to post-modern thought we find that philosophers, aestheticians and others shift in how to grapple with the “Art Question.” The search for an essential quality that all works of art share and that can thus be used as a benchmark to determine what is art and what is not, seems more and more outdated to thinkers in the 40’s and 50’s, and while the old concepts of universal beauty still dominate in most circles, some people are beginning to question this. Thinkers such as Paul Ziff and Morris Weitz are inspired by Ludwig Wittgenstein’s anti-essentialist ideas, best exemplified in his concept of family resemblances. Continue reading


Expression of Emotion

I have managed to squirrel some time to write again (this semester was a trial by fire) and thus I will continue with my plan to explain the four most common aesthetic theories. For this post, we will look at Robin George Collingwood’s theory of expression of emotion.

In broad terms, the theory tells us that art is mostly expression, that is, viewer and artist come together to experience a mental state, or emotion. I make emphasis in the words “come together” because they highlight one of the most crucial aspects of Collingwood’s theory: shared experiences. This is important to Collingwood as he believed re-enactment, the act of being in the same place of mind and context as the subject of study, was necessary to properly understand both human history as well as art. Collingwood refers to art as:

“the imaginative expression of emotion in a way that goes from a general imprecise feeling, to an expression that allows an understanding on part of the audience of the exact kind of feeling the artist feels”

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The pleasures of teaching

An undergrad wrote this about my class:

“I know that the class had no clear intention to adress any philosophical issues or issues of imperialism, socialism and social injustice, however I noticed that by knowing the culture around us we can get answers to the questions I mentioned above, and understand how things happen the way they do and why cultural conventions are generated.”

Well son, let me tell you, THAT was the whole point of the class, you learnt about all those issues while we talked about game of thrones and superman.

Featured image by Alroyfonseca (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Significant Form

Clive Bell describes his theory of what makes certain artistic expressions be considered art as a shared quality that all objects that elicit an aesthetic reaction in the following way:

 “What quality is shared by all objects that provoke our aesthetic emotions? What quality is common to Sta. Sophia and the windows at Chartres, Mexican sculpture, a Persian bowl, Chinese carpets, Giotto’s frescoes at Padua, and the masterpieces of Poussin, Piero della Francesca, and Cezanne? Only one answer seems possible — significant form. In each, lines and colours combined in a particular way, certain forms and relations of forms, stir our aesthetic emotions. These relations and combinations of lines and colours, these aesthetically moving forms, I call “Significant Form”; and “Significant Form” is the one quality common to all works of visual art”

Clive Bell 1914

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What is Art?


The more semesters I teach, the more I come across this question from my students, and it seems to be asked mostly by art historians and artists. The fact that students in their sixth semester are asking this question is, if nothing else it is interesting that so far into their career, students are still questioning what constitutes art. And even then, at least in Mexico, they seem to find themselves in one of two sides. One group, adheres to pure aesthetics, i.e. the creation of beauty (as understood by Mexican society) and another that sees in experimentation the true essence of art. Both interpretations however find it hard to justify or embrace artistic expressions that fall outside of the bounds of their respective understanding. Continue reading

Lugares y Memorias Fragmentadas: the design process

The Sketches helped me create the relationships between the strings and the photographs as well as to plan the three dimensionality of the exhibition space, it is here where I decided to utilise the space and create something more than a line-up of photographs.

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During the preparation process the photographs were printed and mounted on black foamboard. Foamboard was chosen for its lightness and ease of transportation, this reduced the risk of the “columns” collapsing on themselves. As for hanging cord, a polyester thread was chosen because of the bright colours and tensile strength.

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The installation took about four hours and was done in cooperation with Professor Joaquin Conde’s students.

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The exhibition opened on Thursday 13 at 6 pm, reception was warm, feedback was positive. Overall this exhibition was a success.

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New exhibition: lugares y memorias fragmentadas

On August 13 the exhibition Lugares y Memorias Fragmentadas will open at universidad de las Americas Puebla, which I curated and shows a collection of photographs taken during my trips of the last five years. This is a personal and professional highlight that could not have happened without the support of the university and the artist and professor Joaquin Conde. As soon as I have pictures I will upload the whole process from sketches to opening. Hopefully I don’t crash and burn.