Aesthetics & Media

For my PhD thesis in the sciences of art and aesthetics at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (magna cum laude) and for my PhD thesis in architecture and design at the University of São Paulo (with honors), my research focused on contemporary image analyses of concept innovation and on environmental and urbanization issues. Furthermore, after post-doctoral research (UNICAMP Fellowship CAPES 2014–2018) in the aesthetics and sciences of communication (habilitation for a teaching career in higher education, venia legendi), I have been working on aesthetics and media, specifically, the concepts of mediated reality, visual culture, and socio-political relevance. For this analysis to proceed, it is necessary to ground it in aesthetics and the essential values that underscore visual culture. In this sense, my research lines concentrate on global visual media’s human existence concerning the media’s impact on international politics. Two research lines regarding aesthetics and media are outlined:

Research line 1

Visual Communication and Media: Transformation Processes of the Global Metropolitan Rhythm

Abstract:

The global visual media images seem to present essential values that highlight socio-political themes by appropriating modern and contemporary artworks. However, within this context, it is not necessarily the case that images’ socio-political meanings are politically exercised. Rather, these meanings are contained in the politics themselves. Some artworks and themes allude to the freedom of expression, ethics, and democracy and, in doing so, question censorship in visual media and iconoclasm in modern and contemporary art. In this sense, this research line concentrates upon the values of human existence in global visual media with regard to the impact that this media exerts upon international politics. As far as ethics and aesthetics can be questioned, would it be the search for “truth” in the images or only the alterations in the creations’ formal diversity?

It appears that the experience of novelty has been diluted in every aspect of daily life, intensified by the technical reproducibility of art throughout the media (Benjamin, 1939). To provide insight into this preliminary problem, this research on the essential values that underscore modern and contemporary art focuses upon the following questions: What designates and conditions the exploitation of tragedy as a common reason for everyday visual experiences? What are the “true” symbolic values that prove facts through images within the impact of global culture? For this analysis to proceed, it is necessary to ground this research in aesthetics of visibility, such as in the relationship between international photojournalism and images of modern and contemporary art, concerning the awareness of human dignity, freedom, equality, democracy, and respect for human rights.

Art and literature history have shown effective modes of influencing the configuration of images, which impose the perception of their meanings and methods of structural or semiological analyses (Barthes 1970). Therefore, art as a symbolic commodity exists only for those who hold the means to decipher and appropriate it (Bourdieu 1991). An image remains subject to a variety of interpretations. We must realize it as an aesthetic experience before moving on to understand the full meaning of the image. Therefore, in these studies, we consider that definitions are restricted to a specific realm of cognition or common sense, because judgments based on subjective values are significant to the image’s polysemy, especially given the immense diversity of possible interpretations. As such, cultural, social, political, and economic histories have always been transferred to art. Thus, current artistic dynamics can be analyzed by contextualizing the image production process, techniques, and means prevailing to the historical moment, in the Hegelian sense. The production process is explained when the authenticity criterion of art transforms the artistic production. Such an approach is related to contemporary art regarding cultural value as political and social progress, seeking the “democratization of art” as an ideal. One of these visual studies aims to demonstrate the image’s aspects involving the dichotomies between illusion and reality, real news and fake news, and fact and opinion. Hence, this study of the symbolic elements of the image focuses on the following question: Can images prove facts by the media regarding the values of democracy? For this analysis to proceed, the essential values that underscore visual culture as facts must be considered concerning the reality of contemporary communication (Habermas, 2001). Ultimately, this research concentrates on the impact media currently exerts on culture and its mediated realities.

In this research line on aesthetics and media, the following themes are in development:

1. Inequality, as a Fact and a Permanent Image of Investigation

2. As a visiting research professor at the Contemporary Art Museum of the University of São Paulo (MAC USP), I am working on the research “Relations between Music and Visual Arts in the Contemporaneity” and “Heritage Interpretation: Museum, Culture, and Society.” For this purpose, the theme “Art and Facts: Image, Sound, and Rhythm of Global Culture. Aesthetics of Everyday Life” is in development.

Research line 2

Environmental and Urban Aesthetics: The Interactions Between Nature, Architecture, Framing Photography, Moving Images, and Media

Abstract:

This research line on aesthetics integrates the art and technology of producing images and its relationship with the social sciences and visual culture in its history, theory, and pedagogy. Besides achieving research results and knowledge, it is essential to focus on two strictly convergent studies involved in aesthetic experience: environmental and urban aesthetics—the interactions between nature, architecture, framing photography, moving images, and media to understand the aesthetic realm’s value nowadays. This study explores space and time modalities in the interdisciplinary exchange between perception studies and cinematic methods, theories, and editing effects (montage of fragments of environmental and urban scenarios). The objective is to prioritize cinematic representation’s potential, moving images in the transition from nature and architecture to the screen-mediated environment, framing photography through photosensitive surfaces and their digital counterparts. Some important aspects are considered, such as the inclusion of new subjects and objects in the field of perception. That is what Walter Benjamin (1939) called “sensory-perceived shocks.” Films allow for an affective response from the viewer, a subjective experience—the Kino-Eye style that generates a particular effect. One of the best known cinematographic effects grew from Kino-Eye to resist everyday life and reconfigure perception, allowing individuals to have cinematic relationships outside the cinema. The potential use of cinema as an instrument of social transformation and political-cultural power to form critical thinking is due to the influence of the following theorists, artists, and filmmakers: René Clair, Jean Epstein, Elie Fauré, Walter Benjamin, Fernand Léger, Laszló Moholy-Nagy, and Vertov (Michelson, 1984). Specifically, it has influenced Bertolt Brecht’s theory of the distancing effect, also called alienation effect or a-effect (Verfremdungseffekt; V-Effekt) that has altered the conception of visual narratives and produced new understandings of images. Moreover, considering the aesthetic and socio-political influences today does not exclude rereading and interpreting the Frankfurt School’s classical theories on which critical theory is based.

Although the word “image” is commonly used, it is very complex in its meaning, and this research refers to the definition of “imagination” to better understand this multifaceted meaning. Thus, imagination is the faculty or act of forming new ideas, images, or concepts of external objects not present to the senses. Therefore, imagination cannot be characterized as knowledge. Equally significant in this study is the attention to simulacra, through which the imagination makes contact with “reality,” not only in the moment of image execution but in the visual narrative’s formal outcome of our consciousness of time and space as reality. These ideas are further related to the perception of movement, how one moves or is mediated in an environment or urban space. The visual narrative involves memory as much as the act of seeing. It is a process in which visual sequences are perceived and are coordinated in the imagination. Insights are also shaped by how environmental and urban perceptions influence this interplay. According to Giedion (1982), a conception of space is not developed independently of forms, nor is it entirely autonomous. However, the space-time perception of the elements of internal and external spaces or the connections between them always reflects the visual narrative’s conditions. Finally, this research line should offer theoretical, critical reviews and an in-depth analysis of the socio-historical importance of practical possibilities for environmental and urban spaces.

In this research line on environmental and urban aesthetics, the following themes are in development:

  1. Environmental Aesthetics and Socio-Territorial Conflicts throughout Media

2. The Dialectical Approach to Moving Structure and Space: Kino-Eye Theory and Aesthetics of Architecture

3. Artistic, Cultural, and Political InterdependenceCities in Motion: Sounds, Images, and Space in Relation to Cosmopolitan Ideals

My published books and articles, as well as my bio, portfolio, recent international conference participations, and research networks, can be found on this homepage.

Thank you for your interest.