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Aesthetics Re-loaded
International conference
December 11-13, 2012
Aarhus University, Denmark

The aim of the conference is to advance and exchange basic research on aesthetics within the field of new technology. The conference explores the concept of aesthetics by investigating the challenges new computational technologies pose for current aesthetic theory. Confirmed keynote speakers include Bernard Stiegler, Olga Goriunova, and Mark B.N. Hansen. 

Scholars of aesthetic theory seldom engage the specific potential for aesthetic experience offered by digital computer technology, despite its omnipresence. By the same token, IT researchers often interpret "aesthetics" as merely a question of how the user interface manifests itself - in other words, as a question of an encounter or interaction of a "user" with an interface without any more detailed evaluation of the aesthetic qualities of that meeting or interaction. The conference attempts to bring a deeper, theoretically grounded consideration of the aesthetic dimension to bear on the digital phenomena and technologies that surround us today. 

The conference investigates themes like:

The relation between aesthetic practices and aesthetic theory in the 21st century
In the 1990s, the focus of inquiry was on aesthetics in relation to the new digital phenomena of the time (such as hypertext structures and virtual reality). What are the aesthetic implications and potentials of contemporary practices that make use of new technology (such as mobile and social media, apps, touchscreens, DNA-manipulation at the kitchen table etc.)? Are there new dimensions, works and practices we might understand better by rethinking aesthetic theory? Are there dimensions of traditional aesthetic theory that are becoming less important and others which are becoming more important?

Invisible and/or computational aesthetic
Given that an aesthetic relation by definition concerns the human subject's encounter with a sensuous form, what is the significance of that which takes place "behind" the monitor – in the code, the protocols, the hardware, etc.? What is the significance of the fact that the sensuous aesthetic dimension is governed by an invisible code?

Relationships between the concepts of 'digital', 'aesthetics', 'art', and 'culture'
These four concepts often appear to be more or less intentionally merged in descriptions and analyses of digital phenomena within the field of the so-called new media art and culture. How are we to differentiate among them today? Do new ways of utilizing digital technology in artistic and cultural practices invite us to understand the concepts of aesthetics, art, and culture as synonymous as a consequence of new practices, possibilities and business models? Or is it still meaningful to maintain a distinction among them? What do we mean when we apply the adjective ‘digital’ to new practices today?

The Aesthetics Re-loaded conference is open to scholars, PhD students, researchers, designers, and artists working in the fields of aesthetic theory, contemporary art, digital design and related fields.  The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics is a joint partners of the conference and article versions of presentations and papers will be considered for publication in the journal. 

The conference will take place December 11th through 13th 2012 at Aarhus University, Denmark and will include three confirmed keynote speakers (Bernard Stiegler, Olga Goriunova, and Mark B.N. Hansen) as well as a range of sessions and panels, to which participants will be selected after an open call for papers.

Aesthetics Re-loaded is a cross-disciplinary conference jointly organized by the following research programmes and centres with the Department of Aesthetics and Communication at Aarhus University:

Research programme in Mediality, Materiality, Aesthetic Meaning 
Research programme in Human and IT 
DARC – Digital Aesthetics Research Center
Participatory Information Technology Centre
Disruptive Innovation in Digital Art-activism and Business
Organizing committee: Lotte Philipsen and Jacob Lund
Assistant: Jonas Siig

The Aesthetics Re-loaded conference has received generous support from The Carlsberg Foundation.


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Revised 11.10.2012