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Working paper

Picture without Frame: How Do We Recognize Aesthetic Objects?

The paper aims to explore how aesthetic objects are constituted in the process of perception. Most of the studies of arts in social sciences take an artwork for granted and assume that it is seen because it is meant to be seen. Using examples of recent works in the sociology of art, I demonstrate that this question is usually ignored by the researchers, even though their empirical data reveals its importance. To overcome this disadvantage I suggest a theoretical analysis which includes Simmel’s aesthetic theory, phenomenological concepts of attention and contemporary approaches to perception in the sociology of art. As a result, I formulate a set of guiding conceptual principles and apply them to the study of the architectural festival “Arkhstoyanie”. The empirical cases provided in this paper show how and why certain artworks become an object of contemplation, disappear, or achieve a multiple presence.