Ambients, Houses, and Other Popular Environments: Aesthetics of Popular Culture as Environmental Aesthetics

By Naukkarinen, Ossi | Journal of American & Comparative Cultures, Spring 2001 | Go to article overview

Ambients, Houses, and Other Popular Environments: Aesthetics of Popular Culture as Environmental Aesthetics


Naukkarinen, Ossi, Journal of American & Comparative Cultures


I. Introduction

During the last decades many fields of knowledge have been refreshed by connecting them either with environmental questions or popular culture, or with both. This has happened also in philosophical aesthetics. What has not usually been done, in aesthetics or elsewhere, is to combine these two areas; environmental aesthetics has not been interested in popular culture, nor have scholars of the popular culture been very active in dealing with environmental questions. The leading idea of this article, however, is that aesthetic phenomena of popular culture should be approached precisely from the environmental point of view. This move would open up some relevant perspectives that are omitted by those who approach popular culture through concepts and points of view taken from the high-art discourse, where they were accentuated especially in the heyday of modernism but also contested there ever since. In what follows the new vistas will be dealt with through the concepts of borderlessness, flux, multisensuousness and participation.

But first of all, some words of warning. My intention is not to define popular culture or popular phenomena in any strict sense and I am not going to say anything about the tricky borderline cases. I am dealing with cases that are, as far as I can see, paradigmatic for the field. By "popular phenomena" I mean, broadly speaking, ones that are typically favoured and consumed by fairly many or at least strive to be so, that are distributed and marketed mainly through mass media and whose reception is often-even if not always and necessarily-rather simple and unsurprising. Thus, in my model pop phenomena are close to the field Noel Carroll calls "mass art" in his book A Philosophy of Mass Art, and examples of such phenomena in the early 21st century could be Madonna, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Star Wars, NHL ice hockey, The Bold and the Beautiful, Formula 1 races, much of techno or house music, Disney comics, and MTV. When talking about the aesthetics of these kinds of phenomena terms like "low art," "mass art," "lowbrow art," "popular art," and also "entertainment" are often used. The frequent use of the term "art" is symptomatic in a way I wish to pinpoint later on.

The characteristics mentioned do not capture all popular phenomena equally well, and they can be found also outside the area called popular culture. For example, many music groups like Pan Sonic that are often-perhaps without good grounds-included in the category of "pop" do not even want to please the largest possible audience and their music cannot be called easy in any sense, and The Three Tenors, who are normally considered to represent "high art," if one wishes to maintain the complicated distinction between popular culture and high culture, are actually very "pop" by these standards.1 Still, the characteristics mentioned include features that are essential for very many paradigmatic pop phenomena and they are sufficient for the purposes of this article at this point. Of course, they are not the only important traits and more descriptions are given below.

In what follows, my foremost attempt is to offer a point of view with the help of which the aesthetics of popular culture can be, I believe, discussed in a fruitful way. I am not analysing the ontology of the popular but my approach is closer to epistemology. As a matter of fact, I accept that anything can be approached from the environmental point of view, but here my point is to underline that at least in the popular world this approach is fruitful.2

Aesthetics of popular culture have recently been analysed and developed by many philosophers, not to mention the even more numerous sociologists, anthropologists, cultural studies scholars, and the like.3 The best-known theorists with an aesthetic-philosophical point of view include Noel Carroll, Theodor Gracyk, David Novitz, and Richard Shusterman, although other relevant writers such as Sung-Bong Park, whose book An Aesthetics of the Popular Arts received only little attention when published in 1993, could also be mentioned. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ambients, Houses, and Other Popular Environments: Aesthetics of Popular Culture as Environmental Aesthetics
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.