Under the Skin: Notes on the Aesthetics of Distance and Visual Culture


  • Max Ryynänen




Distance has from time to time been discussed in aesthetics, e.g. as a necessary component in the experience of the sublime (Kant) and the aura (Benjamin). It looks like photographs/films are able to cut distance physically and time-wise, but that this does not necessarily lead to emphatic engagement (Sontag, Butler). Thinking about the amount of news images we see, it is interesting how little we discuss this phenomenon. Artists sometimes aspire to cut this distance by searching for new ways of representing e.g. war. In my text I will try to analyze distance as an aesthetic topic. I also discuss Anssi Pulkkinen’s project Streetview (Reassembled), where a ruined house was imported from Syria to Europe, to make the war more comprehensible. I believe reflecting on distance could have both aesthetic and political significance.