Valie Export, “Tap and Touch Cinema,” 1968-1971


Valie Export’s “Tap and Touch Cinema” (1968-71) was a work of interactive art with feminist aims. Presenting the work to the public, Export invited men, women, and children to feel her breasts through a curtained box that resembled a cinema or theater. “Tap and Touch Cinema” reminds us of our own inappropriateness in the way that Kathleen Higgins alludes to in her description of Nicolas Roeg’s “Bad Timing.” In “Whatever Happened to Beauty: A Response to Danto,” Higgins writes that the juxtaposition and violent maneuvering between love-making to an emergency room scene draws the viewer out of a state of pleasurable voyeurism into one of “distressing self-awareness” (283). Export’s work similarly transfigures the pleasurable voyeurism we experience from viewing the naked female figure on television, into one of uncomfortable self-awareness when we are allowed to transcend the one-way gaze into the television screen into a two-way encounter in which the male gaze is confronted. Similarly, the male must come to terms with his own actions, of his own accord, as he goes beyond the realm of harmless, pleasurable viewing, into a moment of crisis in which one most reconcile the decision to cross and meaning of crossing into the forbidden and violent realm that characterizes touching as altercation.

Higgins writes: “We realize after one of thees jolting juxtapositions that we have allowed ourselves to wallow in fantasy aroused by beautiful images of the very character who (in the film) we know to be presently suffering. The beauty is inappropriate, but it reminds us of our own inappropriateness. Thus, while the beauty is inappropriate, the film is not” (283). In an interactive encounter with “Tap and Touch Cinema,” the viewer must acknowledge that they are indulging in an act that is mired in the objectification and oppression of women. While Export’s work invites a scenario that is “inappropriate,” the work itself is appropriate for by translating our hidden thoughts into visible action, it challenges us to come to terms with our character and the limits we are willing to go to in realizing our private selves in public.

Source: Kathleen Higgins, “Whatever Happened to Beauty? A Response to Danto,” 1996.





The Message

In the passage, Jay mentions hip hop as a genre of music that doubles as a socio-political movement. While the image of hip-hop has strayed from its origins, The Message remains one of the most pure hip hop songs to date. Within the context of the Higgins reading, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five are choosing to shy away from the depicting beauty in the song. They talk about the perils that face them by living in a remote and destitute neighborhood. The chorus typifies the mindset that one plagued by these conditions might have. Like Tupac said “I don’t know how to change it, but I know if I keep talking about how dirty it is out here, somebody’s gonna come clean it up” It’s not completely cleaned up yet though.

Sources :

Tupac MTV Interview (1994)

Final Paper Proposal

For my final paper I will explore the topic of film and why it has a positive potential for Benjamin.  This is a topic I wish to discuss because I enjoy watching movies and critically I view them as aesthetic experiences. For sources I will look to, one will be the Benjamin piece The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility. As a secondary source I will look at Jerrold Levinson’s Philosophical Aesthetics: An Overview to get an idea of what an aesthetic experience is and how it can be applied to Benjamin.

Proposal: Shopenhauer

For my final paper  I will be writing about Shonephauer and his theory revolving around the aesthetic experience.  He defends music as having the highest level of aesthetic experience, making it the highest form of art.  I will use modern jam band music and dance music to defend his claim that music has the highest potential for creating the aesthetic experience.

The Ricky Gervais Guide To… Art

Disclaimer: Language, Mild Bullying, Intellectual Ignorance

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant (creators of The Office and Extras) teamed up with Karl Pilkington (An Idiot Abroad, The Moaning of Life) to create a series of podcasts that are meant to be educational on different high-brow subjects.

The basic set-up is to try to get Karl Pilkington to talk about smart-people stuff as he is, for lack of a better term, a real life Homer Simpson. The podcast is basically an excuse to make jokes and hear Karl give his weird little theories on life and the world.

It’s the most fun you’ll have without hallucinating. They’re genuinely hilarious dudes and you do end up learning a lot through osmosis. If y’all have nothing better to do, I suggest you check it out. I’ll also link to their episode on Philosophy in case someone actually cares to read this!

Have a groovy summer, yo!

Final Proposal: The Aesthetic Experience is Dead

With my final paper, I will attempt to make the argument that the inspiring of aesthetic experience is no longer the main focus of art today. Art has become an instrument of intellectualism in a way that drives its tendencies away from sensory experience which is not unlike what Higgins’ describes is happening with “beauty” in art.

My paper will use Dewey’s “The Live Creature and The Aesthetic Experience” to define the “aesthetic experience” in the sense I mean.

However, it must be mentioned that this attitude towards the aesthetic experience doesn’t seem to be coming from the artists’ end but from the audience and the critics. Therefore, interpretation plays a big role in our perception of art. Susan Sontag’s “Against Interpretation” is also quite illuminating in discussing how an interpretation can bring an artwork into an intellectual realm and blind us to its aesthetic possibilities.

I want to attempt to make a successful argument that in our hyper-aware and deconstructive society, art has to swim upstream in order to be considered for what it is rather than what it means.


Vagina Painting


“Shigeko Kubota’s l965 “Vagina Painting,” in which she used a brush tacked on to her panties to smear red, menstrual-like paint on a canvas” (Jay 60). Shigeko Kubota performed her Vagina Painting on 4 July 1965 at Cinemateque, East 4th Street New York, during Perpetual Fluxus Festival. This work of art leaves me puzzled. On one hand I feel as though she just really wanted to paint but by the smae token I cannot really figure out the message she is trying to convey with the brush between her legs.


‘List of Shit I Can’t Do’ by Michael Decolvenaere


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This piece needs a little explaining because understandably it might come across a little confused otherwise. I consider myself a bit of an artist; throughout my life I’ve written poetry, drawn extensively, and have enjoyed composing musical pieces. On top of this I was an extremely active young adult; I played football for my high school, loved walking and running with my dog, was fairly socially active, and was successful in my academic endeavors. To make a long story short (and hopefully to contextualize all of this and the forthcoming piece of art), I suffered an extremely traumatic head injury in October of 2008, fracturing my skull, splitting my ear canal, and causing a condition known as ‘Post-Concussion’ syndrome. While there was a lot of physical agony that came to me as a result of my head injury, the part that hurt me the most was the inactivity. In order to let my skull fracture heal properly I quite literally had to lay completely still in a bed, head facing forward, elevated by three pillows for twelve weeks. The discomfort caused by my ear canal made sound extremely painful, and I was extremely photosensitive from the post concussion syndrome (this is why they let me wear sunglasses in my Hunter ID Photo), so I spent most of those twelve weeks by myself in a quiet, dark room.

I was used to always to doing something, you know, I hated that feeling of wasting time and needed to be occupied or engaged in every waking moment Suddenly, instead of thinking of my endless possibilities- of the litany of things I should be doing, that I could be doing, that I would be doing- all I could think about were those great many things I couldn’t do, wouldn’t do. A great many of my waking moments were spent ruminating over these things that I wasn’t able to do, that I couldn’t do; so often I was brought to tears at the thought of it, at other times I would become very angry and wanted nothing more than to thrash around and scream. The only tangible thing I could do was write, but as Higgins suggests on Page 283, “At times…we see artistic beauty as thoroughly inappropriate.” There was no muse for me to draw beauty from, no morsels of aestheticism from which to forge that sense of ‘beautiful sadness’  we experience when reading Walt Whitman’s “O’Captain!” or Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” The world in which I belonged to was abjectly devoid of the beautiful.

This was my inspiration for “List of Shit I Can’t Do”- I wanted to capture the redundancy of the fact that all I could was write a list of all the things I could do. The piece is literally a list of three hundred and fifty things I couldn’t do at the time of its inception. It was the culmination of my need to create a work of art, my desire to communicate to my friends artistically the experiential starvation I suffered day-in-and-day-out without eliciting a false sense of beauty that had no forbearance on my artistic process.

I was immediately drawn to use this example when I started on Higgins exploration of the notion of beauty being internal to a work of art. Danto’s notion of inner beauty being ‘internally connected with the reference and mood’ (p. 281) sums up the artistic characteristic of “List of Shit I Can’t Do.” I wanted my audience to feel the same aesthetically devoid stupor that was the source of inspiration for the piece. I didn’t want the audience to commiserate with me in the face of a beautifully sad poem that engenders such emphatic feelings; I wanted the audience to feel my same frustration in having to read the list from beginning to end- that mundane, ascetic means through which the entirety of the piece of art had to be processed: one line at a time, in 12pt Times New Roman. Some elements of the list were quite grave and referenced directly to my deteriorated physical condition, while others were whimsical contrivances or specific allusions to movies, poems, and the list itself.





“Living Sculpture” by Piero Manzoni (Jay, pg 59)


This is a piece called Living Sculpture by Piero Manzoni as described by Jay.  Jay says in this example that the artist himself signs the nude model and presents them with a certificate that declares them a genuine piece of art.

This example can be related to something Higgins brings up in Whatever Happened to Beauty? A Response to Danto.  She brings up a point that historically, beauty is tied to humans and a reason we avoid it now is “we consider contemporary humans a poor candidate for beauty.” (pg 282). The example of Manzoni goes in tandem with Higgins as humans embracing beauty in the past.  Here we have a real person being deemed art for their beauty. Higgins continues on by saying we are quick to point out that people who are shown as beautiful nowadays are only done so because of “make up and special effects.” and that “American culture is cynical” (pg 282).  Living Sculpture is a direct contradiction to that new line of thinking we have as it embraces the natural beauty of a model.  This example shows how much society has changed over the years when it comes to sex and nudity in culture as well as how much it’s still changing.