Connell Vaughan


Connell has studied in UCC where he completed a BA in Philosophy and Economics and an MA in Philosophy.  Connell is currently a PhD student in UCD. His area of research concerns questions of aesthetic value where he is focused on the relationship between the institutional theory of art and street art.


Paper: "The Art Institution and Embodied Perception"


In a world where art is sceptically seen as a social construction (this position is best witnessed where the institution is offered as the only essentialist claim regarding art) Paul Crowther argues that changes in aesthetic experience are overlooked. Crowther, for example, points to Merleau-Ponty’s analysis of embodiment to try to account for this experience in what he labels a “critical aesthetics”. Art, for Merleau-Ponty is understood as a development from the “expressive operation” at the root of bodily perception. Accordingly Crowther outlines the scope for “an affirmation of embodiment” when considering the art object. Crowther’s “critical aesthetics” offers an analysis of the phenomenological impact of aesthetic experience in opposition to the reductionism witnessed in institutional thought.

Thus in a similar vein this to Crowther’s project this talk tries to make sense of the phenomenological experience of the aesthetic. However with one key difference; namely it does so with a consideration for the particular type of aesthetic promoted by the art institution in mind. What I wish to look at is an example of a change in that mode of perception within the institutional aesthetic or in other terms the conditions of that affirmative cultural reception. While Crowther offers us a phenomenological account of aesthetic experiece alternative to the institutional theory art, he fails to provide an account of this experience where it is mitigated by the art institution.

To achieve this I will treat of the change in perception as a result of the nature of the aesthetic of the institutional form of exhibition. This will entail considering the nature of embodied perception promoted by art institutions. For example in what sense does considering institutionalised artwork such as sculpture recruit the “expressive operation” at the root of embodied perception, even where direct physical engagement is prohibited?