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Do you feel that philosophy has something important to say about the political beliefs of Sarah Palin? Or the slapstick of Charlie Chaplin? Do you think that new technology changes the limits of human potential? Do you want to show why aesthetics is relevant beyond the tedious ‘but-is-it-art‘ questions of the mainstream?
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Tonight is the night of the 7th British Academy Video Games Awards, a ceremony which since 2003 has rewarded the creators of virtual environments that have had men, women and children alike frantically throwing their thumbs around all year. The host of the event, comedian Dara O’Briain, defended the right of the video game genre to be considered a form of art in an interview this morning for the BBC’s breakfast show, against the initial (and perhaps persisting) incredulity of his hosts.
The world of digital media rested its scrutinising eye on philosophy late last year, as the late Denis Dutton, philosopher of art, delivered a talk to TED, the American-based conference organisation dedicated primarily to its eponymous fields of technology, entertainment and design, as well as more broadly business, global issues and science. Dutton, who held the position of professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand until his death last month after losing his fight with prostate cancer, gave a taster of the evolutionary theory of art appreciation developed in his 2009 book The Art Instinct. Since 1984 the TED audience have been addressed by speakers such as Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, Al Gore and Michelle Obama, and even Jamie Oliver. In keeping with the theme of the aesthetically pleasing, the whole lecture has been stylishly illustrated by animator Andrew Park and released for all to admire on YouTube.
Philosopher and historian of science, Dr. Jay Kennedy – currently a visiting academic in Manchester – has recently put forward the provocative thesis that Plato’s texts are based around a secret cipher; a kind of Platonic Bible Code. Each book of Plato’s major texts, he contends, is structured in such a way as to represent relative musical harmonies according to the ancient Greek scales.
The twelve note musical scale is the foundation of Western music, and is rooted in the mathematical relationships between different soundwave frequencies, their inter-relation, and the effect they have upon the listener. Music theory is based upon the observation that Continue reading “Decoding Plato”
Grant Tavinor is a gamer and a lecturer in philosophy at Lincoln University. His recent book, The Art of Videogames is part of Wiley-Blackwell’s New Directions in Aesthetics Series. We caught up with Grant recently and he talked about one of the unique characteristics of videogames: that is, when you play one, you become a direct participant; an actor in the unfolding of an artwork.
The Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write The Art of Videogames?
Grant Tavinor: I wrote The Art of Videogames because I was convinced that this was a fascinating topic that it was worthwhile writing about! I’m a gamer as well as a philosopher and so was naturally enthusiastic about the topic. My interest in videogames and philosophy started when I was writing my doctoral thesis on fiction, where I briefly used videogames as an illustration of a point I was trying to make about fiction and action. Being a grad student, I had the time to play a lot of games Continue reading “Interview: The Art of Videogames”
An excellent, detailed introduction to the application of the term “hauntology” to music is at Rouge’s Foam here. The term was coined by Jacques Derrida in Spectres of Marx. It plays on “ontology”; the two terms sounds almost identical in French. He asserts that the spectre of Marx’s ideas will continue to haunt Western consciousness in the same way that the spectre of communism was haunting Western Europe when Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto.
In music it has come to be associated with artists such as Burial, Boards of Canada and the Ghost Box label (see the Rouge’s Foam post for listening). However, its application is much broader than music. Here it is discussed in relation to visual art. As theorist Mark Fisher notes here, hauntology can be seen as a paradigm for the malaise of postmodernism, a static world haunted by the ghosts of the past after Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History. Continue reading “Hauntology”