Julia Ditter, Northumbria University, United Kingdom (co-ordinator)
Lena Pfeifer, University of Würzburg, Germany (co-ordinator)
G. J. Hilton, Birmingham University, United Kingdom
Molina Klingler, University of Würzburg, Germany
Melina Lieb, University of Mainz, Germany
Stefano Rozzoni, University of Bergamo, Italy
On 2 March, a group of aspiring ecocritics joined Dr André Krebber (University of Kassel, Germany) to discuss the interrelation of aesthetics and the non-human. The different readings and cultural productions elicited a lively conversation about the possibilities of aesthetics beyond the human, speciecism, perception, imitation, and other aspects.
Dr Krebber opened the webinar with an invitation to critically reflect on the two aspects that lie at the very centre of the webinar: aesthetics and transversality. He introduced three different versions of a transversal aesthetics: 1) digitality, 2) multiperspectivity, and 3) modes of knowing and knowledge production. Transversal aesthetics in its relation to the digital poses the question whether the digital has ruled out the human brain in such ways that every form of perception already preconceives the digital and its ways of reading the world. The multiperspectival component at the intersection of aesthetics and the transversal critically asks whether we as humans can ever create our own perspectives or if every perspective only gets multiplied until endless diversification. Finally, Dr Krebber stressed the importance of taking the sensorial aspect inherent in a transversal aesthetics seriously and recognising its contribution to knowledge production.
In the following, we discussed a selection of different forms of cultural production, among them artistic video installations and nature documentaries. The questions raised by these materials included:
- Has aesthetics always gone beyond the human or do we need a new form of aesthetics?
- Is every form of imagining a different species prone to fail as speciecism? What role does imitation play in this context?
- Can we as humans ever escape the anthropocentrism of our imagination? If not, how do we deal with this?
It might not come as a big surprise that we did not find conclusive answers to these challenging and mind-bending questions within the 90 minute session. The participants were eager to discuss the material and the questions raised further so that we reconvened for a second session on transversal aesthetics three weeks after the webinar. With a lot of questions to ponder and think about further, we will probably be all ears when we encounter the non-human next time.