Connecting in Multiple Non-linear Ways: Aesthetic Awareness on the Fireground

By Valerie Ingham.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Theory and History

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online September 1, 2016 $US5.00

Western societies are increasingly designed and negotiated with the expectation that participants will intuitively negotiate new and uncertain terrain without "standard operating guidelines," but rather feelingful impressions and expectancies. For example, websites are evaluated on their "intuitive" design—meaning the degree to which the first-time viewer can move around the site without having to read a help menu or follow instructions. This is the age of the networked society. The ideas of the positivist understanding of rationality, logic, objectivity, and emotionless deduction have been superseded in academic theoretical discussions, but this is not as immediately evident in the time-pressured arena in which the emergency services operate. Firefighting has predominantly been defined in terms of technical and pragmatic procedures, policies, and guidelines. There is very little written on firefighting with respect to training aesthetic judgment and recognising its importance in the decision making process. Through an exploration of one incident, the “Clothing Factory Fire,” I connect the work of an artist to the work of decision making in time pressured emergencies, using the connecting thread of the non-verbal appraisal of a scene. The implication is that, for artists and emergency service practitioners alike, there is not enough time to make verbal judgments. Emergency service practitioners see in “black and white” and act immediately, paradoxically relying on an aesthetic framework which reflects that of an artist.

Keywords: Aesthetic Awareness, Intuition, Decision Making

The International Journal of Arts Theory and History, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp.1-9. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online September 1, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 555.928KB)).

Assoc. Prof. Valerie Ingham

Senior Lecturer in Emergency Management and Course Coordinator for Fire Investigation Organization, Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, NSW, Australia