5 (2002), Nr.1/March



Medienästhetik. Abstract and bibliography of a lecture in interview form given for "Philosophische Brocken", bi-weekly program, curated by Herbert Hrachovec, Professor at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Vienna, broadcasted by "Orange 94.0. Das freie Radio Wien" (based at Vienna/Austria, wave length 94.0 FM, on March 13, 2002, 1 to 2 pm. Interview speaker: Rremi Brandner. Producer: Günther Friesinger. Audiofile at (offline mva 03/4, instead:) (12 MB). 6473 characters.


In more than the half of De Anima Aristotle is occupied with a theory of aisthesis, a theory of sensation, perception. Besides the nutritive, the representative and the cognitive souls the perceptive soul as a specific power is able to be perceptive. Several remarks of Aristotle show that he recognized aesthetic aspects of sensation: the aisthemata (the word built in analogy to phantasmata), the aesthetic object (for instance that of a drawing), the "rapport" of harmony (for instance that of a certain sumphonia) and the good feel accompanying perceptions. There is a notion of the medium, which is the metaxu, the "in between", the intermediate (air, water). It enables the separation of the aistheta and what receives them and insofar allows for the development of sensory organs (being media as organs of mixture for and of the body).

In the course of human history there is a whole range of perception media (developing for example with the replacement of air by glass) revealing that they can ascend to excellent communication media. As Aristotle's account addresses the "in between" of the medium, it does not include its features of the "through" and the "around". Especially the "around" has lately become a major medium experience within the setting up of media atmospheres.

Concerning aesthetics as part of philosophy, i. e. philosophy of art, Stanley Cavell and Samuel Weber make us aware of basic difficulties of a philosophical aesthetics in the age of the mass media, especially of television. Whereas Cavell in watching television recognizes a completely new "aesthetic" attitude (if aesthetic at all) that is that of monitoring and ponders the question how to ascribe to it a new status of the work of art, Weber declares the end of art because television displaces the confrontation with art fundamentally - television annihilating the perceiving relation to the work of art and setting up the monitor that radiates instead of what formerly auratic works of art had to offer.

For the most times aestheticians - Dewey being an exception - have neglected the notion of medium in art. Nevertheless media in art have had their place in art history long ago, for instance as the intermezzo in 17th and 18th century theatre and opera. Therefore one of the aims of a contemporary aesthetics of the media is to establich an aesthetics as a theory of media art. I propose to think of three different ways of media art. Interactive media art still is the state of art theory accounting for the immense technological powers of artistic media. Reflective media art in its best solutions (Velazquez, Manet, Paik) focuses upon its medium (media) to reveal the aesthetic powers by means of the art work. And the media art with perhaps the greatest potentiality is the media art of disturbance, originating with the aesthetic situation of the experiment of sound proof spaces that Cage participated in.


anon., medium, in: The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition, Oxford-UK: Clarendon 1989, vol.9, pp.854-855

Aristoteles, Poetik, griechisch/deutsch, übers. u. hg. v. Manfred Fuhrmann, = UB 7828, Stuttgart: Ph. Reclam jun. 1982

Aristoteles, Über die Seele, = Werke. Bd.13, hg. v. Ernst Grumach, übers. v. Willy Theiler, Berlin, Akademie-Verlag 1959

Hans Belting, Das Ende der Kunstgeschichte. Eine Revision nach zehn Jahren, München: C. H. Beck 1995

Walter Benjamin, Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter der technischen Reproduzierbarkeit, in: ders., Gesammelte Schriften, Band I.2, hg. v. Rolf Tiedemann u. Hermann Schweppenhäuser, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1980, pp.471-508

Stanley Cavell, Das Medium und die Medien des Films. Stanley Cavell, The World Viewed. Reflections on the Ontology of Film. Chpt. 11: The Medium and the Media of Film, Cambridge-MA/London-UK: Harvard University Press 1979, pp.68-73, pp.236f., übers. v. Peter Mahr in: mahr'svierteljahrsschriftfürästhetik 1 (1998) 3/Dezember, 14110 Zeichen (order to be put on line for free)

Stanley Cavell, The Fact of Television, in: ders., Themes out of school, San Francisco: North Point Press 1984, pp.235-268

Arthur C. Danto, The End of Art, in: ders., The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art, New York: Columbia University Press 1986, pp.81-115

John Dewey, Art as Experience, New York-NY: Perigee/Putnam Publishing Group 1980

Brian Eno, Ambient # 1. Music for Airports, London: Virgin 1978

Michel Foucault, Die Ordnung der Dinge (1966), übers. v. Ulrich Köppen, = stw 96, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1974

Michael Fried, Introduction, in: Three American Painters. Kenneth Noland. Jules Olitski. Frank Stella, Fogg Art Museum/Harvard University, 21 April - 30 May 1965, 2nd Printing, Cambridge-MA: Fogg Art Museum 1971, pp.3-53

Jürgen Habermas, Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns, 2 Bde., Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1981

Martin Heidegger, Die Frage nach der Technik, in: Bayerische Akademie der schönen Künste (Hg.), Die Künste im technischen Zeitalter <Vortragsreihe vom 16. bis zum 20. November 1953 in der Technischen Hochschule>, <2.Aufl.,> München: R. Oldenburg 1956, pp.48-72

Peter Mahr, Medien, mixolydisch. Zur Ästhetik bei Aristoteles, Baumgarten und Serres, in: schlamm & damm, trockenlegen und vermischen, = sinn-haft_nr.12/2002, pp.18-26. (Same text without the two corollaries about three kinds of mixture and a remark on Boussoulas's attempt to establish an aesthetics of mixture in Plato has been rendered by sinn-haft as

Peter Mahr, Medien, mixolydisch. Die Ästhetik der Vermischung von Athen bis Detroit, lecture with discussion, March 1st, 2002, at: Depot. Kunst und Diskussion, Breitegasse 3, A-1070 Wien, Austria, (Depot distributes its lectures on videotapes, prize 3 Euro + shipping. Lecture focuses on Aristotle's aesthetics of mixture, gives an account of three kinds of mixtures, and links producer Eric Blackstead's mix of Rain Chant with Santana's Soul Sacrifice on "Woodstock I" with a theory of techno music. The Lecture has been performed with DJ mam accompanying with techno music including the Blackstead mix.)

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, = Mentor Book 2765, New York/Ontario: Penguin Books o.J./1964

Ralf Schnell, Medienästhetik. Zu Geschichte und Theorie audiovisueller Wahrnehmungsformen, Stuttgart/Weimar: J. B. Metzler 2000

Jürgen Trinks, Faszination Fernsehen. die Bedeutung des medialen Weltbezugs für den Menschen der Gegenwart, = Europäische Hochschulschriften. Reihe 40: Kommunikationswissenschaft und Publizistik, Bd.72, Frankfurt am Main ...: Peter Lang. Europäischer Verlag der Wissenschaften 2000

Matthias Vogel, Medien der Vernunft. Eine Theorie des Geistes und der Rationalität auf Grundlage einer Theorie der Medien, = stw 1556, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 2001

Samuel Weber, Mass Mediauras. Form, Technics, Media, hg. v. Alan Cholodenko, Stanford-CA: Stanford University Press 1996

Hans R. Zeller, Medienkomposition nach Cage, in: Heinz-Klaus Metzger/Rainer Riehn (Hg.), Musik-Konzepte. Sonderband. John Cage I, 2. Aufl., München: text + kritik 1978, pp.107-131


Peter Mahr © 2002

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