Applying Philosophy of Art in a Global World
Edited By Zoltan Somhegyi and Max Ryynänen
12 Material Events, Vibrant Essences and Resonant Atmospheres: An Approach to Perfumery in the Light of Contemporary Aesthetics (Mădălina Diaconu)
AbstractWhile aestheticians still struggle for the acceptance of perfumery in the artworld and perfumers set forth the use of traditional aesthetic concepts like beauty, form, pleasantness, and harmony, the paper attempts to detect the specific “logic” of fragrances in the light of recent continental philosophy and aesthetic theory. The phenomenological perspective of lived experience, supplemented by French perfumers’ theories (e.g. Jean-Claude Ellena), lets scents appear as forms-forces or dynamic materials. The aromatic substances are a subtle matter that creates atmospheric, non-extended spaces, emanate a specific aura and irradiate emotional energies. An ontology of things is inadequate for explaining their eventfulness, for they are fields of forces, resonant essences and affective qualities whose harmony results from tension and synergy. The inner dynamics of scents is, phenomenologically speaking, irreducible to the mechanical transport of molecules, their vibrating effects is different than a vibration of molecules, finally their experienced intensity and density is distinct from the intensity of perfume in its conventional meaning of a measurable volume. After arguing that passibility, intensity, vibration, resonance and atmosphere are concepts used by contemporary philosophers (Garcia, Rosa, Böhme) that can become productive for describing the experience of perfumes, the end of the paper associates perfumery as “l’art de vivre” (Ellena) with the contemporary understanding of aesthetics in relation to styles of living (Schmid, Shusterman). Both Ellena and the philosophy about the art of living criticize the standard taste imposed by commercial interests and demand to cultivate awareness, refine sensitivity...
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