The Aesthetic Appreciation of Landscape Through Photography: A Philosophical Narrative

By Stuart Richmond.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Theory and History

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper explores the meaning and value of the aesthetic appreciation of landscape through photography in an art education context. Aesthetic appreciation, though difficult to define with precision, is an ability involving perceptiveness, feeling and judgment. To appreciate aesthetically is to perceive and value something for its own sake, for its own intrinsic qualities. Being an ability appreciation can be fostered through education and practice. Walking, noticing, attending, perceiving, identifying, smelling, and touching are important experiential attributes of appreciation. I discuss the ways in which photography can inspire aesthetic appreciation of landscape, which includes natural and man-made features and qualities. Wolfgang Welsch argues that we have a primordial relation with nature that comes before concepts. This situates humans as biologically and sensually connected to the cosmos, rather than being a separate center and creator of reality that is the standard Western epistemological position. Through landscape photography students can exercise their creative abilities, feel more connected to the earth and at times realize outcomes that have aesthetic meaning. My key ideas are that a child’s experience of landscape is important because it is an opportunity for holistic human development and well-being, second because it can provide many opportunities for aesthetic appreciation and artistic expression, and third because it may well be the case that we would be less likely to harm and degrade what we have come to love. Photographing landscape shapes appreciation and understanding: abilities we need in a world that has still not come to terms with its own imminent ecological dangers.

Keywords: Aesthetic, Appreciation, Landscape, Primordial, Photography, Teaching and Learning

The International Journal of Arts Theory and History, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.79-88. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.244MB).

Dr. Stuart Richmond

Professor, Arts Education, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

Stuart Richmond is professor of arts education at Simon Fraser University and a practicing photographer. He recently published articles in philosophy and arts education in the Journal of Aesthetic Education, Paideusis, and the International Journal of Education and the Arts. He co-authored Landscapes of Aesthetic Education (2011) with Celeste Snowber.