Today, we often associate aesthetics based on the harmony and colors of the images that we see on the internet, whether we saw a photo of a girl wearing a cute attire on Pinterest, or we saw someone posted a vaporwave-themed photo that they edited on Tumblr. And most often than not, it’s not hard to observe that the word “aesthetic” itself is often used in a lot of places, often being used as the word to describe almost anything that we think is pleasurable to look at when we see it. I am not saying that using the word itself many times is wrong, or that we have been using the word to fit the idea of aesthetic to ourselves, but do we know what aesthetic is and what it means to us in our daily lives?
Aesthetics around us
Photo by niko photos on Unsplash
Aesthetic has become the epitome of words to describe what we think is pleasurable to us. Whether we use it to define a piece of artwork, or a piece of attire, or even the themes that we use on our very own smartphones, we eventually successfully had used the word to fit into our daily vocabularies. The word itself is a broad term that can also fit anything that we describe it into. Often known as the adjective that we use in the phrase “aesthetically pleasing”, we already have the idea that having an “aesthetic” would often refer to something beautiful or pleasing to our eyes. If we bring the Philosophical definition of aesthetic (most appropriately, aesthetics), it is the study that centers around beauty, how should it be defined, and how beauty is associated with elements that surround us. And if you think about, if we bring a layman’s description to beauty, most often they won’t have much to say as beauty can be referred to what we see on the face of a human being or the structure of the mountains that peak to the sky beautifully like that of the shape of a cone. Having a generalized definition of beauty might just be difficult to be constructed if anyone would dare to define it simply because there’s no exact face that we can draw when we try to explain beauty as it is abstract in itself.
Beauty in aesthetics
And this is where Emmanuel Kant comes in, a philosopher from the 1800s that gave us a peek into how we can define beauty, whether natural or unnatural. Natural, since nature in itself, exudes the ability to be beautiful without it being touched by external forces, and unnatural, since there are things that are considered beautiful even when they’re man made or products of man. Kant explained that there are two ways to gain an understanding of the different aesthetics that surround us, namely (1) beauty, and (2) the sublime. The sublime is more like an abstract perception towards beauty (even though beauty in itself is abstract), and that there the feeling associated with it isn’t rationalized to the person experiencing the sublime. It’s hard to explain it in this blog, so here’s an article that explains what sublime is. What we are going to discuss here is all about beauty and how it makes things aesthetic or makes them aesthetically pleasing per se.
Beauty as defined by Kant is simple: it is anything that has form, order, and harmony.
Photo by Ludde Lorentz on Unsplash
This means to say that anything can be beautiful regardless of subjective notions. As long as an object presents form, order, and harmony, there is beauty. That is why in art, there are different ways on how to define something as beautiful. They study different forms, different colors, different ways that make something beautiful, and derive something aesthetically pleasing from it. As the world is judged by a lot of mathematical equations and computations, art is the same. To judge that something is aesthetically pleasing, or beautiful for that matter, there are certain rules to be followed. Planning on making a beautiful landscape? You can achieve that by following certain rules that conform to the physical world itself. Now, this doesn’t mean that unnatural things cannot be beautiful. Art itself has its fundamentals to be considered beautiful. Heck, even a rioted painting made up of different colors can be considered aesthetic just as long as the fundamentals are followed through. This is also one of the reasons why not everyone can be an artist since there are still things needed to be learned before one can make an extravagant masterpiece.
The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli
The fundamentals of art that often is the basis of good art are explained through color theory, composition theory, form theory, perspective theory, art value, and even the way how and where the artwork is made is an indication of its aesthetic. There are a lot of ways that can indicate how something is aesthetic. To put it bluntly, it is also true when they say that art is subjective, hence also why there are a lot of different aesthetics that exist right now in the modern world.
Emotions in aesthetics
Aside from the fact that aesthetics is mostly based on how beautiful something is perceived as another important component to consider is the emotions that are associated with the experience when the aesthetic was/is observed. So why is it that emotions play an important role here?
Art is everywhere you can find it and what you perceive it to be. It is not difficult to deduce what we consider as art in the modern era since we are taught in schools on what art is and why art is. But, why is it indeed important? Why is there the need to help us recognize art despite it being literally around us even to this moment?
Aristotle explained why art is important. Simply put, our emotions have a lot to do with it. We experience a lot of emotions in our daily lives and these emotions also need to be regulated - there has to be some form of balance to our emotions that keeps us sane, and here is where the importance of art comes in.
You might have heard of art as a form of expression, and this is right. Art itself is a form of expression - whether it is the by-product of guilt, anger, happiness, or sadness, art is a medium that is based on the emotions of the artist expressed to a certain audience who feels the same way towards the artwork (or not, as observers are always welcome to empathize toward different forms of art). These artworks that I am talking about do not necessarily have to be limited to paintings or drawings. I am talking about photography, sculptures, movies - these are popular works of art that are very accessible to many, and how are people affected by this? Well, in a lot of ways.
Say for example you decided that you are going to watch Naruto for the day since you’re feeling a little extra worn off for the week. You feel like you lack the motivation to do something and thus watching Naruto might bring back your inspiration and energy to work through the week again.
Doing this routine gives you some sort of balance with your emotions despite being down, even though temporary. But this is better explained when you choose to watch a scary movie on a regular day. The emotions that you will often experience are that of fear, and doing this is pretty healthy. Aristotle describes this as a catharsis which is the purification and purgation of emotions — particularly pity and fear — through art or any extreme change in emotion that results in renewal and restoration. This gives the viewer the ability to feel extreme emotions without having to feel in danger in the process.
How does beauty translate to fashion?
Well, since we are an aesthetic fashion store, let’s bring a little light to how we perceive something aesthetic to fashion.
And just like how we think of art, fashion itself is a form of expression thus it is also a form of art. And just like art, there are a lot of ways and styles an individual can express themselves - whether they feel jolly, often portrayed with the wearing happy colors, and if they’re feeling in the dumps, often a simple hoodie with pants and an unstyled outfit can be portrayed this with. But that’s just simplifying everything up. There’s a reason why fashion designers and fashion enthusiasts exist, and that is because they live the fashion expression, they live with the art of fashion because they know the importance of wanting to express something through fashion. This is evident with the existence of countless fashion aesthetics that surround us. The need to express a hidden feeling through art, through fashion that hides behind what the public can see. All these different aesthetics are beautiful and appealing for the people that want to portray their suppressed realities.
So if you think that fashion isn’t art, think again and reflect on how fashion is your closest thing to expression than you ever thought it is.
Take everything in this article in a grain of salt. Just remember that the concept of art in itself is a complex study even in the academe This is just to introduce you to the wonderful world of art and how it applies to our modern lives, even to our virtual personas that we associate ourselves with. We also know how our emotions play a huge role in how we perceive something as beautiful and pleasurable, and how beauty is associated with forms and harmony.
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