Prof. Rocco Gangle 2018 Summer Institute seminar

"Formalization in Critical Aesthetics"


This seminar will examine and, if successful, reproduce the critical power of formalization in contemporary aesthetics. We will treat “aesthetics” here as a productively equivocal term referring both to the various features of artworks themselves and to the acts of critical reception and analysis of artworks. The chiasmus of these two senses of aesthetics will serve as our investigational turf: the artworks we will study are already themselves acts of critical intervention in social and political fields, and the modes of aesthetic theory we will engage are thinkable as extensions of particular histories of art. We will be concerned especially with the tendency towards formalization in various streams of modernism and contemporary critical theory, and we will aim to think formalization itself as a type of technology operating throughout culture. Benjamin, Sontag, Laruelle, Karatani, Badiou and Ranciere will be critical points of reference, and we will use works by Malevich, Arbus, Rankine, Ai Wei Wei, Kevin Young and others to explore the interactions between artistic form and political critique. The seminar will emphasize collective inquiry through methods of formal diagrammatic construction throughout.