Bojana Kunst
Philosophy, Aesthetics and Art Between Organic and Technological, Aesthetics of the Body and the Art of Postmodernism

  • text by Bojana Kunst
  • Ph. D. dissertation - summary in English - University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Humanities / Arts, Department of Philosophy, Aesthetics, 2002
  • prof. dr. Lev Kreft, Ph.D., menthor; prof. dr. Aleš Erjavec, Ph.D., president; prof. dr. Mladen Dolar, Ph.D., member; prof. dr. Miran Božovič, Ph.D., member

© Bojana Kunst

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The introduction to the doctoral dissertation Philosophy, Aesthetics and Art between the Organic and the Technological. Body Aesthetics and Post-modern Art highlights the contemporary belief in the entropy and obsoleteness of the body. Guiding us through the entropic continuity of the physical, the author enables us to respond to the problem of contemporary post-human body, and at the same time, become aware the old problems which arise in full visibility today. With the body's constitution deeply marked by the artificial, the author attempts to highlight artificiality as one of the fundamental ways of our connection to and mediation of the world, as well as one of the basic aids of the modern philosophical disconnection.

The thesis contains three central chapters. The first one, The Disconnection, deals with the philosophy of Rene Descartes, which established the bases of the modern relation between the physical and the artificial. Taking Descartes' Le Monde and its initial disconnection between self and the world as the starting point, the analysis initially focuses upon stories of protheses, and provides an insight into modern strategies of the physical and the artificial. The position of the artificial proves double, placing Descartes' argumentation between the elusiveness of the Baroque world, and the modern world of scientific certainty. On the one hand, artificiality stands for the fundamental fable, and on the other, for a rationalised metaphysical stimulation set to establish the order of the representation of the new world. The true modern topos of the artificial is principally its role in subjectivisation - a Baroque cathoptric role of the artificial as the fundamental mediator at the final disconnection. As through a prism, the former organicistic rendering of the modern body transgresses into the field of the artificial - to become empty, disconnected, and then return.

Establishing the disconnection and then attempting to differentiate, however, a philosopher is faced with the omnipresent, complex character of the connection. Its complexity and articulation are dealt with in the second chapter, The Connection. Interpreting early modern anatomical specimens and Baroque curiosities collections, the author focuses upon the representation of the dystopic field of the in-between, with the dangerous connection of undistinguishable, hybrid and monstrous creatures threatening to ultimately disconnect us from the rationality itself. The cultivation of physicality, senses, taste, and excess not only gives rise to modern rationality, but also articulates the modern representation of the field of the in-between - governed by the science of aesthetics of the 18th century. With the connection ceasing to be a matter of metaphysic, its symptoms become visible - as carved deeply into the front of aesthetics, which eventually leads to Leibnitz's philosophy of universal connections and its numerous connotations in contemporary connecting.

The third chapter, Body Aesthetics and Post-modern Art, is a leap into contemporarity, shedding light upon our perspective of the relationship between the organic and the technological. It deals with the contemporary change in physical representation, with the body disclosed as the field of the in-between. Contemporary art is the inspirational place and the true topos of the contemporary connections. The fluidity of contemporary art sometimes reminds of the obsessive disclosure of the exterior in the Baroque period. The chapter focuses upon the strategies of subjectivity, especially upon the sexual articulation of the body in contemporary artistic praxes, viewing bodies of this kind as our contemporary monsters. Their dangerous connections point to important changes in the understanding and placing of the artificial; once a rational and schematic cathoptric trick, artificiality is changing into an unrestrained, irrational, enormous production of non-human objects. The play with the contemporary dangerous connections constantly interlaces with the articulation of the body and subjectivity within the technological, scientific and economic fronts. According to the transparency of its play with the monstrous, the modern post-human subject is becoming post-human precisely due to a new connection, a new partnership opened by the omnipresent, complex objects of interior.