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Why Aesthetics Matter

A seminar about aesthetics’ influence on sports, computer interfaces and medicine.

2018.10.21 | Miriam Yasmin Tarp Yamil

Ask Vest Christiansen

Jonathan Sholl

Christian Ulrik Andersen

Human Futures hosted the seminar Why Aesthetics Matter on October 11. Human Futures is a research programme which brings researchers from different disciplines and faculties together, with the purpose of presenting the same topics from different angles and thereby create interdisciplinary discussions. This was also the case with the Why Aesthetics Matter seminar, where three scholars from Aarhus University each presented a perspective on how aesthetic influences our lives.

Associate professor Ask Vest Christiansen has done research on elite sports, doping and ethics, and at the seminar he gave different examples of the aestheticizing of sports: from the photographs of elite athletes in motion, to the sporting spectacle and drama which is presented to us – for example through a football match – with villains and heroes fighting against each other.

After Ask Vest Christiansen, the discussion shifted from the physical world of sports to the digital world of software and computer interfaces. With examples of net-art and software art, associate professor Christian Ulrik Andersen showed how interface aesthetics can be critiques of the interface itself. An example of this is the “demetricator”, which is a free web browser extension that, when turned on, can hide all metrics on facebook (i.e. the number of likes, friends etc. on an account).

At the end of the seminar, asst. professor Jonathan Sholl gave a talk on “bodily norms and the medicalization of human difference”. Here aesthetics was discussed in relation to how we judge ‘normality’ against ‘anomality’ in a medical context, and how what we see as ‘normal’ is heavily contingent on culture and context.