Symposium DEAF2012: Vital Beauty

V2_ presents: "Vital Beauty," an international symposium and publication as part of the Dutch Electronic Art Festival 2012.

Symposium DEAF2012: Vital Beauty

photo: George Gessert

May 2012
09:45 to 17:15
location: de Balie, Amsterdam

The symposium focuses on the question of how the age-old notion of beauty can regain an importance appropriate to the 21st century. As hard as modernism tried to erase it from art and life, our need for beauty has not been annihilated. Vital beauty, as defined by John Ruskin more than 150 years ago, is a beauty of sympathies and affinities with life forms. Today, however, such forms are as technological as they are natural. In an age of permanent crisis, the most urgent question is how beauty can become part of our lives (and politics) again.

We do not associate beauty in any way with Prince Charles-type neoclassicism, but neither do we link it to recent attempts to come up with a “bioclassicism” that would reintroduce the ideal proportions of natural systems as measures for human aesthetics. Technology is the new nature, and the updated kind of beauty we’ll explore in this symposium is a technological one. We will call this beauty “vital,” in honor of the 19th-century art critic John Ruskin, who distinguished between “typical,” conventional beauty and the “vital” kind, which surprises us with new connections, relations and potentialities.

We start with two statements by Alfred N. Whitehead, that "Beauty is a wider, and more fundamental, notion than Truth" and that "Beauty is the one aim which by its very nature is self-justifying." It is our belief that, without beauty, calls for sustainability and all other forms of ecological responsibility lack conviction. This is why we wish to explore vital beauty as a means of making all living processes valuable again.



09:45 Introduction by Lars Spuybroek (Moderator)


10:30 Thierry Bardini

11:30 Wendy Steiner

13:30 Arjen Mulder 

14:30 Timothy Ingold

15:30 Philip Beesley

17:15 end



Vital Beauty (part 1) from V2_ on Vimeo.


Vital Beauty (part 2) from V2_ on Vimeo.


Vital Beauty (part 3) from V2_ on Vimeo.


Vital Beauty (part 4) from V2_ on Vimeo.


Vital Beauty (part 5) from V2_ on Vimeo.


During this symposium, the newest V2_ publication Vital Beauty was launched.

Publication: ISBN 978-90-5662-856-7, € 22,50

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