Monday, June 30, 2008

Aesthetics of Catastrophe

by Aric Mayer
Public Culture: 20.2, pp 177-191, Duke University Press.


A key issue in the interaction between visual culture and the practice of democracy is the ways and the means by which our popular aesthetic forms frame, address, and resolve the expectations of the audience. It is a highly political exchange. The dynamics of this interaction, both its promises and its problems, is made vividly explicit in large-scale events that move the entire country into action or opinion. Hurricane Katrina is one of the most significant events of this kind in recent memory. By examining aesthetic positions available and deployed in depicting that catastrophe, we can see how the aesthetic positions themselves can at times work in opposition to the content of the work.


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