/    Aesthetics for a Philosophy of Scale    /    Abstract    /

Each new imaging technology introduces a new scale of the body. Historically in art and architecture, scale has been in regards to the material, physical, and observable world and the body has been scaled down to create moments of awe through the monumentality of the physical objects. With the introduction of technologies of the image, from photography, to film, and virtual and augmented reality, scaling happens not only in the physical and known dimension of space but also in the abstract and perceptual dimension of time: By means of these technologies the body is not only scaled physically, but also in relation to time. (I have a sketch for this, looking back on time.)

Therefore the ontology of the body observing the image is different from that of the body occupying the image, and of the body creating the image. The body merely observing the image exists in the space outside of the image and external to any meaning. The body occupying the image is a necessary function for knowledge production because in order to derive any meaning, one must consider and then occupy the context of the image. The body creating the image is the realm of experiential media and technologies, the space where our bodies not only occupy the image but also continually create it and where bodily self-perception constantly shifts. In this third mode essentially we also become technologically catalyzed shape shifters. My research is on aesthetically derived knowledge from the third body-to-image relationship. Using aesthetics as a tool, this research is carried out by means of altering temporal and spatial perception in photography and video in order to scale the body and to shift bodily-self perception beyond our embodied 1:1 scale to objective reality.

The core questions of this dissertation are:
What new perceptions of time does the scaled body create?
By what aesthetic methods can the new perceptions be studied?
What do we learn from the aesthetics of these new perceptions?

By looking at the scaling capacity of the body as a possible reality informed by cognitive psychology, I developed two methods of perceptually scaling the body in relation to time. These methods create moments of awe when the body is scaled up, as opposed to the historic scaling down: first, a photographic technique I call real-time lapse, and second, a single-take film shifting our perception of the passage of time in relation to space. Each pushes the perceptions of scaling the body as methods of study into the nature of experience and qualitative knowledge.

The results of these studies have been applied to the development of new tools in data visualization furthering the concept of aesthetically derived knowledge, through the aesthetics of scaling as presented in this dissertation, as well as a critique of current dialogue around alternate realities. My studies demonstrate that turning around one’s view of scale from fixed to varying, reveals inconsistencies in how we understand the real world because our knowledge, language, and technologies are limited by the continued belief of a fixed-scale body. What is needed beyond technical and psychological fooling of what is reality is a reworking of our understanding of the body and its resulting realities.