The ArtSense Project

Taste and community - exploring the foundations of personal experience, so as to understand the possibility of community in the context of diverse or incompatible cultural beliefs.

Project Aims & Background

The objective of the ArtSense Project is to contribute to the formation of community between people with diverse cultural commitments by revealing how value and meaning are constructed within communities, and for which the attribution of meaning to art provides an analogy. This project targets the way artistic value and meaning are attributed to particular artworks. Our aim is to develop understanding of the conditions of community.

The project concerns the role of imaginative constructs in the motivation of ethical or socially orientated behaviour. These imaginative constructs are inadvertently acquired through our interactions within our communities, that is, through cultural artefacts. The relevant philosophical idea is the indeterminate concept. The indeterminacy refers to an idea or concept under development which is nonetheless rule- governed (or exhibiting intention) sufficiently to motivate and engage interpretations.

The indeterminate concept is another name for an imaginative construct which always entails subjective investment in terms of interpretation. In turn, subjective investment hooks into our motivation. The imaginative constructs that we inherit and internalize are acquired through forms that are indeterminate conceptually. They are not like learning determinate rules which lend themselves to analysis. Instead they inadvertently pervade our behaviour, our hopes and what we consider to be our personal experience.

Indeterminate concepts are conveyed through imagery and metaphor, not literal propositions. The way art acquires meaning offers an analogue for the way belief takes hold within communities. This is significant for our problem concerning community between those holding diverse cultural commitments because belief informs the attitudes and outlooks (and what one understands as one’s experience) specific to the respective cultural groups.

This project seeks to uncover the processes by which social or artistic value and meaning is attributed to particular artworks. In order to achieve this, the project is establishing a platform for communication and exchange between philosophers and artists; and in turn between philosophers, artists and the art audience.

We are developing a medium through which the expertise of philosophers and artists can be brought to bear upon a social problem. The problem addressed through the art-world example is the possibility of community between those holding diverse and sometimes incompatible cultural beliefs. Our thoughts, evidence, findings, hypotheses, works, experiments etc will be made available through this website.