Vital Beauty

"Vital Beauty: Reclaiming Aesthetics in the Tangle of Technology and Nature" focuses on the question of how the age-old notion of beauty can have a meaning fit for the 21st century.

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With: Thierry Bardini, Caroline van Eck, Gustav Fechner, Mark Frost, George GessertTim IngoldArjen Mulder, John Ruskin, Lars SpuybroekWendy SteinerDaniel N. Stern.

Edited by Joke BrouwerArjen Mulder and Lars Spuybroek.


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How can the age-old notion of beauty regain an importance appropriate to the 21st century? Our need for beauty has not diminished, as hard as modernism tried to erase it from art and life and supplant it with the sublime. It was a sublime that increasingly associated itself with negation and deconstruction. In contrast, vital beauty, as defined by John Ruskin more than 150 years ago, is a beauty of sympathies and affinities with life forms. Yet vital beauty must be reinvented, since life forms today can be technological as well as natural. The concept of vital beauty raises the question of how we should design our environments, our objects and our lives, and of how we might one day invent a politics of beauty.

The publication was released during the Vital Beauty Symposium at May 16, 2012 in de Balie, Amsterdam.

Download the introduction of Vital Beauty (PDF).

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