This post constitutes an expansion on the use of the term “aesthetics” in my previous posts. Previously, I have referred to the aesthetic as a specific realisation of purely formal technique. This is a necessary simplification for the sake of argument. However, the relationship is more complex than this.
The aesthetic itself – that is, the artistic presentation of content – is a formal invention. However, the relationship between form & content is dialectical. An aesthetic effect – that is, the actual experience of consuming an artistic product – cannot be realised in the absence of content. To this end, an aesthetic effect is the realisation of the unity of form & content in traditional artistic products. Once this unity has been realised, the emotional effect it renders is, itself, content. Content is realised artistically through form.
We have, therefore, 2 mutually inter-dependent categories: that of form & that of content. Neither of these categories can exist in the absence of the other: form cannot exist without content, content cannot be realised without form. The implication of this, for the aesthetic, is that both the form – that is, the manner by which content is arranged, the process by which content is realised – & the content – the subject, in a loose sense – are political to a greater or lesser extent. To phrase this simply, content, once realised, is the explicit meaning of an aesthetic; form, the manner by which content is realised, is the implicit meaning of an aesthetic. Artistic form is the seemingly invisible/esoteric technique which conditions content. Once again, both of these categories conditions the other & can only exist in unity.
Aesthetics are, therefore, the manner by which artistic form conditions content. Aesthetic effects, the realisation of content. Content – the explicit meaning of the aesthetic – is the primary factor within this unity. The form of an aesthetic is a consideration necessary to realise the effect; an inappropriate form cannot realise content.