Yuriko Saito

Neglect of Everyday Aesthetics


1.      Questions:

         a.      How broad is the aesthetic for Saito?

                   i.       Is there an aesthetic dimension to every experience, activity object (or virtually all?) (Consider knife example)

         b.      Has Saito an overly broad concept of the aesthetic? (E.g., baseball aesthetics?!)

         c.      Is everyday aesthetics as important (more important) than aesthetics of art?

         d.      Should aes education include education in everyday aesthetics? Replace or supplement School of the Arts with School of the Everyday Aes Experiences?

         e.      Does Saito believe there are any norms of aes appreciation of non-art, including everyday, aes objects/activities?



3.      Saito’s sense of “aesthetic”

         a.      Includes aes exp, aes properties, aes attitude and much more

         b.      “Aesthetic includes any reactions we form toward the sensuous and or design qualities of any object, phenomenon, or activity”

                   i.       “Design qualities” include things like character development, and plot organization of a piece of literature

                   ii.      Stresses sensuous and design, but not excluding the aes relevance of the conceptual, contextual

                            (1)    Not formalist: “Not committed to the formalist aesthetics that excludes cognitive considerations”

4.      Rich multifaceted nature of our aesthetic life; Aesthetic objects/activities include:

         a.      Conventional forms of Western art (“fine arts”)

                   i.       Paintings, music, literature, dance, theater

         b.      Newer, non-conventional art

                   i.       Happenings, performances, earth art, chance music, installation and interactive art

         c.      Non-Western traditions of art

         d.      Nature and environment

         e.      Popular entertainment

                   i.       TV, pop music, movies, sports and games

         f.       Daily activities

                   i.       Eating, walking, and dressing

                   ii.      “Farmers have many aes experiences, make aes judgments, act to satisfy aes inclinations as he negotiates his daily life by eating, clothing, dwelling, clearing and working, and dealing with env and fellow community members”

5.      Aesthetic not “honorific”

         a.      Includes not just pleasant, but also unpleasant experiences

                   i.       E.g., the depressing, disgusting, or dreary

         b.      Includes reactions to qualities like dingy, nondescript, or plain-looking

         c.      Mild negative reaction to dingy looking wall is an aesthetic reaction, no matter how trivial or unsophisticated

6.      Aes not limited to special aes experiences

         a.      Some aesthetic interests/concerns generate memorable aes experiences and others do not lead to special moments that stand apart from flow of daily lives

         b.      But aes reactions can be seemingly insignificant, almost automatic responses to everyday life (to mess and dirt)


7.      Aes not only contemplative/spectator, but also active experiences

         a.      Aes attitude theories emphasize contemplative stance toward the object

         b.      Saito includes responses that are not spectator-like experiences but prompt us to action–like cleaning, discarding, purchasing, w/o accompanying contemplative appreciation

8.      Aes typically functions in everyday life to get us to act or decide or form preferences and make judgments

         a.      Selecting clothes, sex partners, pets, apples

         b.      dimensions of aesthetic life, like forming preferences, judgments, design strategies, and courses of action

9.      Saito rejects popular idea that aes either deep or trivial

         a.      Either something highly specialized and isolated from our daily concerns–art

         b.      Or something trivial and frivolous, not essential to our lives, like beautification and decoration

10.    Everyday aes has great practical import

         a.      Non-art aesthetics, while a neglected dimension of our aes lives, have serious practical ramifications

         b.      Affect and can determine our worldview, actions, character of society, physical environment and even the course of history

                   i.       How?

11.    Saito’s goal and main critique

         a.      “By liberating the aes discourse form confines of specific kind of object or exp and illuminating how deeply entrenched and prevalent aes considerations are in our mundane everyday existence, hope to restore aes to its proper place in our everyday life and to reclaim its status in shaping us and the world”

         b.      Both art oriented aesthetics and aes experience-oriented aesthetics compromise diversity of our aes life, impoverish content of aes discourse, and fail to account for how importantly aes affects quality of our lives and state of the world            

12.    Saito’s “anything-viewed” assumption

         a.      Stolnitz: “Anything at all, whether sensed or perceived, whether it is product of imagination or conceptual thought, can become object of aes attention_

         b.      Ziff: “Anything that can be viewed is a fit object for aes attention, including a gator basking on a mound of dried dung”

         c.      Saito: Except for some things extremely dangerous, evil, or physically over-taxing (deafening sound), the universality of possible aes objects generally accepted

                   i.       If these things can’t or shouldn’t be appreciated, reason is usually not aes, but psychological, moral, or physical



14.    Art is almost always regarded as the quintessential model for an aes object

         a.      Aes status of things outside artistic realm depends on degree of affinity with art

15.    Even aes education has this art bias

16.    Saito seems to support aes education for everyday aes experiences

         a.      Ordinary everyday aes experience more important than art experience

         b.      “Ordinary everyday aes experience more significant than experience of high art in forming and informing one’s identity and view of the world”

         c.      For great majority of young children everyday aes experiences outside artworld likely to be more powerful in informing/forming minds

17.    Art is understood as primarily paradigmatic Western art

         a.      Rembrandt painting, Beethoven symphony, Shakespearean sonnet

         b.      Mainstream philosophical aesthetics remains fixated on Western Fine Arts

18.    Today’s artworld much expanded to newer forms of art

         a.      But these not seen as paradigms of art but pose a challenge to mainstream art theories

         b.      Examples

                   i.       James Turrell’s Roden Crater

                   ii.      “Roped” a performance piece

                   iii.     Tibetan monks sand paintings


19.    Art chauvinism turns everyday aesthetics into inferior wannabe art

         a.      Art-centered aes focuses on how art objects and experience differ from other objects and experiences

         b.      Discussion of aes of non-art objects examines how they are similar to art

         c.      Assumption that for aes value of object to be important it must be aes valuable in same way art is

         d.      Since non-art objects not primarily created for generating aes experience, do not provide coherent design, dramatic tension, or intense expressiveness to same degree as much art does

                   i.       Hence inferior aesthetically

20.    Saito: Aes dimension/value of non-art objects not limited to how they are similar to art objects or standard art experiences

         a.      Focusing on this similarity insures you miss much that is important

21.    Examples of treating aes of non-art on model of aes of art

         a.      Food: Is food art? Since art involves composition of parts, food could be art if it involves ordering of various tastes and smells

         b.      Chess: Perhaps chess is an artform because it involves originality and that is important part of art

         c.      Sports: Not art as ultimate end is not to produce performances for aes pleasure (but to win); Is art as involves playfulness and dramatic narrative structure, though improvised like jazz

         d.      Can’t this model be illuminating as well as mislead?


22.    Focusing on how aes of non-art is like art means that the dimensions of these objects that disqualify them from art (or are different from art) are not explored aesthetically

         a.      And such exploration is aes fruitful

         b.      Some of these characteristics are as aes interesting as art defining characteristics

         c.      Food: “One might earn a bit of stature for food by advancing it as an artform, this will divert attention from interesting ways aes importance of foods diverges from parallel values in art

23.    Examples of characteristics of non-art that rule them out as art but are worth aes exploring

         a.      Absence of definite and identifiable object-hood and authorship

         b.      Transience and impermanence of the object

         c.      Our engagement with the object

         d.      Primacy of practical values of object



25.    A. Framed vs frameless

         a.      Art framed by artist/convention/medium versus everyday object unframed and framed/selected by appreciator

         b.      Baseball example: Appreciate “noisy cheer of fans, hot sun beating down our neck, smell of hot dogs, as well as quasi-art elements like player’s body movements, thrill of tight competition, drama of record-breaking home run”

         c.      NY city example: “Its sense of place cannot be separated from smell of burnt pretzels and chestnuts, feel of vibration and steam coming from below, chaotic honking of cabs–though we can choose to ignore all these and concentrate specifically and exclusively on its architecture”

26.    B. Spectator mode versus engagement

         a.      Apple example:

                   i.       Appreciate it as a pure spectator as if it was a sculpture piece

                   ii.      Or behold its perfectly round shape and delicate red-green colors, hold it in our hand and feel its substantial weight and smooth skin, enjoy the crunching sound when bite into it and the contrast between the firmness of its contents and the sweet juice flowing from it”

27.    C. Privilege higher senses (sight/sound) versus all senses

         a.      Argument for exclusion of taste, touch, smell: Art involves composition and has parts

                   i.       Sight and sound allow perception of parts, other senses do not

                   ii.      That’s why we have “no taste sonatas/symphonies

         b.      Saito believes there are both aesthetic and moral costs to ignoring aes of lower senses

28.    D. Authorial identity/intention

         a.      Urban landscape: no one person, group, or plans built it

29.    E. Modification not okay versus okay

         a.      We can/do change everyday objects: we clean them, rearrange them

30.    F. Stable identity versus unstable identity

         a.      Painting of a mountain versus the mountain

         b.      Everyday aes objects are lived in, used and used up

31.    G. Aes values primary versus other values

         a.      Art produced for aesthetic purposes

         b.      Non-art produced typically for nonaes purposes, e.g., functional use

         c.      In non-art aes and practical fully integrated

         d.      Knife example

                   i.       If only pay attention to how it functions, this is not aes

                   ii.      But if pay attention to way its sensuous qualities allow it to serve its function, that is aes

32.    No norms? Does Saito believe there are no norms/standards for better and worse aes appreciation of non-art objects?

         a.      Purely personal preference how frame/select aes appreciation of everyday objects?

         b.      No conventions for how select or otherwise appreciate?

         c.      No way of appreciating more appropriate or correct?

         d.      “Free to rely on our own imagination, judgment and aes taste as the guide” p. 19

         e.      Examples

                   i.       Look at landscape upside down (Japanese scenic “bridge over heaven”)

                   ii.      Look at landscape through car window

                            (1)    Not better to use all senses?

         f.       Saito says a mistake to isolate everyday objects when aes appreciate them (an appreciate them like art objects)

                   i.       “I believe it is a mistake to find aes value in everyday objects/activities only insofar as we momentarily isolate them from everyday use and contemplate them as if they were art object created for appreciation

                   ii.      “If we divorce them from practical significance in our lives we will miss rich array of aes values integrated with such utilitarian contexts”

33.    Conclusion: Analyzing everyday aes objects on model of art is misguided

         a.      Compromises rich and diverse content



         a.      Especially given that its aims is to subvert many of the conventional characteristics of art

         b.      Some create works to simulate or be slice of our everyday life–tries to blur distinction between art and everyday life or bring the everyday into the museum or art to everyday life

                   i.       Impermanent, transience

35.    Examples:

         a.      Env art, happenings, performance, chance music, installation, conceptual art, interactive art

         b.      de Maria’s New York Earth Room, Rirkrit Tiravanija’s life-scale, fully functioning replica of his apartment where he cooked Thai curry and served it to gallery-goers

36.    Saito rejects this attempt to model everday aes exp on non-traditional art

         a.      As long as art is different from daily affairs (even if mean to illuminate/emulate them), it has a special status not shared by everyday life

         b.      All these works make an “artistic statement” something everyday life does not do

         c.      Any kind of art is separated from rest of life; is an exception to a commentary on everyday objects and affairs


37.    Should evaluate the aes content of our everyday life, objects, activities on their own terms and not borrow from art of any kind



39.    There are special, unforgettable aes experiences

         a.      Like being transported to another dimension

         b.      Experience stands out from what was before and after

         c.      An encapsulated unit sealed off from our ordinary engagement with daily life

         d.      Contrast with humdrum of everyday experience

         e.      Quite infrequent

40.    There are also ordinary, everyday aes experiences

         a.      Cases where we form an opinion, make a decision or engage in an action guided by aes considerations w/o invoking any special experience?

         b.      Examples

                   i.       Our daily personal appearance

                   ii.      Aes considerations important when dealing with possessions, e.g., purchasing decisions

                   iii.     Chose color of paint, plant flowers, clean tidy rooms, remove rust from cars, maintain a weed free velvety smooth mowed lawn, replace shabby drapes

                   iv.     Sometimes form decisions on societal debates primarily based on aes reasoning

                            (1)    Cell phone tower, wind farm, condemn graffiti, location of billboard

41.    Analogy with history

         a.      2 ways to study history: great man/big events or ordinary people and their lives

         b.      Aes experience also can be approached in these two ways

                   i.       Special aes experiences

                   ii.      Ordinary aes experiences

         c.      Landscape appreciation also has this distinction

                   i.       Surrounded by ordinary landscapes–yards, office buildings, shopping malls

                   ii.      Or snow capped peaks, scenic natural wonders

         d.      “Whether regarding history, landscape, objects or experience, the ordinary and mundane are often overlooked”

42.    The ordinary and mundane aes experience need to receive equal attention as the dramatic and extraordinary


43.    Saito is promoting aes everyday life ordinary experienced (not extraordinarily experienced)

         a.      She does not simply want to focus on the gems in ordinary everyday aes experience–the gem-like, aes potentials hidden behind trivial, mundane and commonplace

         b.      Equally important to illuminate dimensions of everyday aes life that do not lead to memorable, standout, aes experiences