"Miss Piper, you're about as black as I am," a talk on the relation of Adrian Piper's art and philosophy to questions of race at the "Deconstructing the Truism of Race as a Social Construct" conference, UCLA Hammer Museum of Art on 3 November 2018. My talk runs from 1.30.10 through 2.09.10.
My research draws on both analytic and continental approaches to aesthetics and the philosophy of art, and is informed by recent debates in art history and theory. Until recently, it focused on two main goals:
1. To contest widespread assumptions in the philosophy of photography regarding the nature of photography, particularly as an artistic medium, in part by showing that it is predicated on a narrow diet of examples that distorts philosophers' understanding of the field, and in part by developing an alternative conception of photographic agency. The former draws on resources in art history, the latter on the philosophy of action.
2. To defuse antipathy to aesthetics in art theory by showing that kinds of art typically thought challenging to aesthetics can be accommodated by a sufficiently rich aesthetic theory. To this end I have drawn on the neglected semantic potential of Kant's theory of art, and endeavoured to show that a variety of supposedly anti-aesthetic artforms can be accommodated by the resulting aesthetic theory.
There is a book project associated with each of these goals. The former, On Photography: A Philosophical Inquiry, was published by Routledge in 2018. The latter, Aesthetics after Modernism, will appear in Oxford University Press's 'Thinking Art' series in 2024. Both involve substantive engagement with recent art and photography. Artists whose work has been important for these projects, respectively, include: (1) Peter Henry Emerson, Alfred Stieglitz, Walker Evans, Berenice Abbott, László Moholy-Nagy, Paul Strand, Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand and James Welling, and; (2) Brian Barry, Lawrence Weiner, Art & Language, Sol LeWitt, Jeff Wall, Gerhard Richter, James Coleman, William Kentridge and Ed Ruscha.
3. I am now working on a new book that proposes a model of 'philosophical criticism' for doing substantive work in the philosophy of art that departs from dominant methodologies in both analytic and continental aesthetics. Provisionally titled Spurs to Thought: Engaging Philosophically with Contemporary Art, it consists largely of stand alone essays, each of which considers a small number of works by a particular contemporary artist in relation to a concept of philosophical interest. Projected chapters include: Martin Creed (stupidity as a value); Adrian Piper (racism from the inside); Lee Friedlander (the asymmetry of shame); Rineke Dijkstra (intimacy, vulnerability and trust); Santiago Sierra (the morality of exploitation); Jeremy Deller (delegated political agency); James Welling ('trust in the world'); Zina Saro-Wiwa (the metaphysics of habitat); Elisabeth Price (the seductions of readymade discourse) and Simon Starling (the transfiguration of the commonplace). These will be book-ended by methodological chapters on how my approach differs from standard approaches to art in philosophy (whether analytic or continental).
From 2004-2012 I was a member of the British Society of Aesthetics executive committee, from 2008-12 as Chair of the Society. I have been a Leverhulme Senior Research Fellow, 2004-5, and Humboldt Experienced Researcher at the Institut für Philosophie, Goethe Universität, Frankfurt, 2012-13. From 2007-11 I was Co-Director, with Margaret Iversen (Dept of Art History & Theory, University of Essex), of the AHRC research project, ‘Aesthetics after Photography.' There have been three special journal issues, various publications and conferences, and an exhibition associated with this project. I was a member of the AHRC's Peer Review College, between 2010-14.
I am very happy to consider PhD applications from candidates wishing to work on projects in any of the research areas detailed above.
Work in progress
'Felix Eats Garri and Egusi Soup: Zina Saro-Wiwa and the Metaphysics of Habitat,' co-authored with Katrin Flikschuh (journal article, in draft)
Spurs to Thought: Engaging Philosophically with Contemporary Art (monograph, in progress)
'Aesthetic judgement after de Duve or what, exactly, did Kant 'get right'? (journal article, currently under review).
'Abstraction in Photography, Revisited' in Chiara Ambrosia and Julia Sánchez-Dorado, Understanding through Abstraction in Science and Art (London: Routledge, 2024)
On Photography: A Philosophical Inquiry (London: Routledge, 2018): hereLink opens in a new window
Aesthetics after Modernism, forthcoming (NYC: Oxford University Press), 2024.
2. Edited Collections and Special Journal Issues
The Life and Death of Images: Ethics and Aesthetics. Co-edited with Dominic Willsdon, London: Tate Publishing and Cornell UP, 2008: here
3. Journal Articles:
'Conceptual Art and Aesthetic Ideas,' Kantian Review 26:4 (Dec) 2021, 603-618: https://www.doi.org/10.1017/S1369415421000388
'On the Very Idea of a "Political" Work of Art,' The Journal of Political Philosophy 29:1 (March) 2021, 25-45: https://0-onlinelibrary-wiley-com.pugwash.lib.warwick.ac.uk/doi/full/10.1111/jopp.12217
'New Theory Reconsidered: Reply to Scott Walden and Dominic McIver Lopes', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 77:3 (Summer 2019), 313-320.
'Spontaneity and Materiality: What Photography Is in the Photography of James Welling,' co-authored with Dominic McIver Lopes, Art History 42:1 (Feb 2019), 154-176.
'Whither Photography Theory? Reply to Catharine Abell and Paloma Atencia-Linares' in 'The New Theory of Photography: Symposium on Dominic McIver Lopes, The Four Arts of Photography and Diarmuid Costello, On Photography, Aisthesis, 11:2 (Dec 2018) (special issue on the Aesthetics of Photography), 230-234.
'What is Abstraction in Photography?', The British Journal of Aesthetics 58:4 (October 2018), 385-400.
'What's So New About the "New" Theory of Photography?Link opens in a new window,' Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 75th anniversary issue, 75:4 (Fall 2017), 439-452.
'"But I am killing them!" Reply to Palermo and Baetens on Agency and Automatism', Critical Inquiry, 41:1, Fall 2014, 178-210.
"Action and Automatism" in NONsite, Issue 11: Photography and Philosophy (Winter 2013/14), np.
'Pictures, Again,’ Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art, 8:1, 2008, 11-42.
'On the Very Idea of a "Specific" Medium: Michael Fried and Stanley Cavell on Painting and Photography as Arts,' Critical Inquiry, 34:2, Winter 2008, 274-312.
'Whatever Happened to "Embodiment?:" The Eclipse of Materiality in Danto's Ontology of Art,’ Angelaki, 12:2, 2007, 83-94: here
Translated as: 'Cosa mai è successo all'"incorporazione"? L'eclisse della materialità nell'ontologia dell'arte di Danto', a special issue of Rivista di Estetica 'Artworld & Artwork: Arthur C. Danto e l'ontologia dellarte' ed. Tiziana Andina e Alessandro Lancieri, 35:2, 2007; pp. 113-128.
‘Greenberg’s Kant, and the Fate of Aesthetics in Contemporary Art Theory,’ The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 65: 2, Spring 2007, 217-228.
‘On Late Style: Arthur Danto’s The Abuse of Beauty,’ British Journal of Aesthetics, 44:4, October 2004, 424-439.
'Lyotard’s Modernism' in 'To Jean-François Lyotard,' special issue of Parallax (17); October 2000, 76-87: here.
4. Papers in Edited Collections:
'S T U P I D A R T,' in Elisabeth Schellekens and Davide Dal Sasso (eds.) Martin Creed and Philosophy, London: Bloomsbury, 2022.
'Photography as a Category of Art,' in Sonia Sedivy (ed.) Art Representation and Make-Believe: Essays on the Philosophy of Kendall L. Walton, New York: Routledge, 2021, pp. 177-195.
'Without Shame: Lee Friedlander's Late Self-Portraits,' in Hans Maes (ed.) Portraits and Philosophy, London: Routledge, 2020, pp.171-188.
'Xenophobia, Stereotypes and Empirical Acculturation: Neo-Kantianism in Adrian Piper's Performative Conceptual Art,' in Connie Butler and David Platzker (eds.) Adrian Piper: A Reader, New York: MoMA Press, 2018; pp. 64-117.
'On the (So Called) Problem of Detail: Michael Fried, Roland Barthes, and Roger Scruton on Photography and Intentionality,' in Mathew Abbott (ed.) Michael Fried and Philosophy: Modernism, Intention, and Theatricality, London: Routledge, 2018; pp. 151-170.
'Doing Justice to the Art in Photography,' in Dominic McIver Lopes, Four Arts of Photography, Wiley-Blackwell, 2016; pp. 135-146.'Leaning into the Wind: Poiesis in Richard Long' in Aron Vinegar and Amanda Boetzkes (eds.) Heidegger and the Work of Art History, Ashgate 2014; pp. 141-169.
5. Curatorial Projects:
6. Exhibition Catalogues:
Aesthetics: Art, Beauty and the Sublime
Work & Concept: Philosophy and Contemporary Art
Issues in Contemporary Aesthetics
Topics in Philosophy and the Arts
Work & Concept: Philosophy and Contemporary Art
Spring Term 2023: Tues 2-3pm, Wed 1-2pm. PLEASE EMAIL me in advance for an appt if possible.
American Society of Aesthetics
European Society of Aesthetics