Jessica Frelund

Speculating on what the aesthetics of ability might be, let us first consider aesthetics, generally associated with beauty, and less often, to our detriment, with the politics of the senses. Aesthetics, here then, is the body politic, the senses being vision, audition, gustation, olfaction, mechanoreception, thermoception, proprioception, nociception, and equilibrioception, but more importantly, sites of contestation; axes competed for through various acts of persuasion. It is not so much a matter of the affectlessness of beauty, but of all other reactions to the perceptible. What is at stake when the sensing body is not viewed as a political site, as a contested site? Let us consider for a moment style, words that are in vogue, gestures, behaviors, or habits under which layers of reasoning, disavowal, and absurd limitations remain for the most part, hidden from view. But are they hidden, or are they conveniently disregarded or shrouded by subjector, subjected, or subjected as subjector? Are they not played out daily by the powerless and powerful alike through emotive parametrics, already in resonance with the political? Are the visible physiological changes such as muscle tone, posture, and facial expression not indicators of design as much our own as those of factisimal arbitrants in power? Whatever and wherever the case, power has a great deal to do with control of the sensorium, the sensing-body, the individual senses.

Sponsored by GSA and UCSD Vis Arts