beyond the aesthetic gaze

In recent years there has been a growing interest in the social construction of the senses in different periods and cultures. The literature on this subject has brought out the multiplicity of ways in which perception serves not only to gather sense data but also as a vehicle for the apprehension of cultural values. The majority of this literature, however, particularly within the field of art history, has focused on the cultural elaboration of the sense of sight to the exclusion of the other senses (see Hal Foster, ed., Vision and Visuality; Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century). The potential role of the proximity senses in the production and appreciation of art has been neglected, due in large part to the long-standing dictum in Western culture and philosophy that the "lower" senses cannot be media of aesthetic experience (Immanuel Kant, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View; Rudolf Arnheim, Visual Thinking).

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