Author: cdaviescontextualstudies

Innocence Through The Eyes Of A Child

When we are born, “we are born to be good”, quotes Jean Jacques Rousseau, An 18th century philosopher. When we are young we aren’t exposed to modern society and are happy in the state of nature.

Jean Jacques Rousseau was forced to flea his hometown in Genevor. He was brought up in isolation and so when he moved to Paris it was a completely different experience, it was full of luxury of the day and opulence, not like his home town which was very poor.

In 1749, he read a newspaper advert on recent advances of the arts and sciences which had contributed a contribution of morals about the world getting better. His opinion was that the world hadn’t improved people, people had changed from being good and innocent as a child and being emerged from their pre-social society.

He believes that when a person is exposed to the social society they are self loved and compare themselves to people around them. This is like social media today where people are addicted to looking at apps such as Facebook and compare themselves to others and get themselves depressed and feel the need to impress those around them. We are happy in the state of nature when we don’t think about these things and have an innocent mind and no worries.

In 1755, he published ‘Discourse on the Origin of Inequality’. He claimed that original man, while solitary, was happy, good and free.on how to raise your child and how to prevent them from the society of corruption.

In his last 10 years, Rousseau wrote his ‘Confessions’, justifying himself against his opponents. He studied his own life experiences which showed what living is like on the inside and looked at how he had been raised. He died on 2 July 1778 in Ermenonville, the estate of the Marquis de Girardin, who had given him refuge.






Power & Decay In Art

Today I am going to discuss the two themes; power and decay. We find decay fascinating as a subject and its all around us. It brings us together. We are constantly exploring and spending money to see things that have decayed. For example The Tintern Abbey, one of the greatest monastic ruins in Wales.

There’s something that fascinates us with the past, perhaps it’s how the buildings were built compared to the modernised designs we have now. The wonderment of how something/someone that once was revered and had purpose is now cast aside and neglected for a myriad of reasons. Why and how did that rejection occur? Is abandonment always inevitable? When I look at such images I can’t help but see life and death simultaneously – what was and is. Here is a photograph of a painting held at the Tate Museum in London.

JMW Turner, Tintern Abbey: The Crossing and Chancel, Looking towards the East Window, 1794.



Picture reference:

Art is also very powerful. The human brain responds to art in different ways, Art that we find beautiful can apparently increase blood flow in a certain part of the brain by as much as 10 per cent- the equivalent to gazing at a loved one. Great art can be beautiful, but it can also be scary and dreadful.  It can disarm us but also can alarm us with its embedded messages.  It can also be educational, for example we don’t really think about problems of others and by global issues, like whats going on in America at the moment with Donald Trump being president. We do not feel strongly enough that we are part of a global community. Giving people information often leaves them overwhelmed and not empowered and poised for action. This is where art makes a difference. Art doesn’t show people what to do but engages you to your senses. It can make you feel which can spur thinking and action which is why at the moment there is a lot of propaganda art in America.


This poster is designed by Shepard Fairey. More information on this to be found on:

I hope from my opinion on the power of art and decay has given you more of an understanding. Here are a few links of sites i found interesting if you’d like to read more into the subjects:








Aeshetics Of A Visual Culture

In my lecture this week we discussed what visual culture is and aesthetics of visual culture.

Visual culture is what we see all around us, informative posters, films, adverts, photographs and sculptures. But in an aesthetic way they’re nice to look at and please the eye.

For example Mcdonalds uses a red ‘m’ as the colour red triggers the thought of hunger in the brain.

Aesthetics is a particular taste for, or an approach to, what is pleasing to the senses-especially sight; (for example the sunset or landscape). It also means a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of art and beauty. A particular theory or conception of beauty or art.

We make informal aesthetic choices every day from what we wear to the things we buy; books, music, and objects for our homes.

Public figures make aesthetic choices to convey something about who they are.

For example, Andy Warhol wore various silver wigs throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s to change his personal appearance and to create a signature look.

Aesthetic choices we make influence many parts of our lives. We all have a personal aesthetic (preference and taste based on what we see).


The Art Of the Sublime

The Art Of the Sublime

The sublime has been long understood to mean a quality of greatness that inspires awe and wonder from the 17th century onwards. The concept and the emotions it inspires have been a source of inspiration for artists and writers, particularly in relation to the natural landscape.

Today the word is used for the most ordinary reasons, for a ‘sublime’ bottle of wine or a ‘sublime’ evening. In the history of ideas it had a deeper meaning.

The art of the sublime was often suggested that it had started with Edmund Burkes philosophical enquiry (1757).

His theory is that normally we hate being made to feel small and insignificant but these experiences are to be important and rather wonderful. To explain what he meant, he developed the idea of the sublime in a book called ‘A Philosophical Enquiry Into the Origin Of Our Ideas Of The Sublime And The Beautiful’.

In my lecture we also looked at videos on Hegel, Nietzsche and Derrida who share similar views on the sublime and basically say to look behind the obvious.

If you’d like to look more into this there are some interesting videos on the school of life website on philosophy and on the tate website.

Beauty & The Sublime

Beauty & The Sublime

Over the next 12 weeks i will be writing regular entries with images to my blog. These entries will be based on different artists and art works, philosophies and ideologies.

Now for my first blog post i am going to talk about beauty and the sublime. Beauty i think is all around us. In nature, in people, in music. But what do you think?

I have recently read part of Kant, Schiller and Hegel’s views on beauty. Schiller discusses that: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, freedom is an appearance, autumn in appearance”.  Schiller insists that freedom itself is something ‘noumenal’ and so can never actually manifest itself in the realm of the senses. I believe that this could be true. We all see differently and to each and every one of us different things are beautiful. For example: a partner, flowers, a child. Hegel agrees with Schiller; against Kant that beauty is an objective property of things so it’s either beautiful or ugly.

But Kant argues that: “beauty is not itself an objective property of things”. He believes that when we judge a natural object or work of art and call it beautiful we are making a judgement about an object and that the object has an effect on us which we expect that others should have the same view on it. But it is actually setting our imagination in ‘free play’ with one another, and it is the pleasure generated by this free play that leads us to judge the object to be beautiful.

What i also found rather interesting was William Hogarth’s artwork of the lines of beauty. He belives that wherever you see these lines in nature it indicates beauty. You see these lines in a persons body shape , in shops, food. I find this rather strange and I’m quite intrigued about whether its true or not but you see it everywhere. This leaves quite a mystery to me and find it an interesting opinion.