Dealing with aesthetics

We all have a general conception about aesthetics and we discussed most of that in the class. Based on that I tried to have a discussion with my fellow photographer friends.
In common terms, it is something that is appealing, an epitome of beauty, a piece of art, or more broadly something that gives us joy. It is contextual. It deals with balance and co-ordination, it is a consummation or a closure.
Aesthetics is a subjective responses to the things we consider beautiful.

These were said in class.

Wikipedia defines it as :
is commonly perceived as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste. More broadly, scholars in the field define aesthetics as “critical reflection on art, culture and nature.”Aesthetics is a subdiscipline of axiology, a branch of philosophy, and is closely associated with the philosophy of art. Aesthetics studies new ways of seeing and of perceiving the world.

So anyone would agree to this.
Now we know that there are some things that give us joy and that is not visible. There are somethings in life that makes us smile. Thus, can we classify these things as aesthetic? So does aesthetics also inlcude things that are non tangible.

Another point of debate I was having was, do things that are unpleasing to us not have aesthetics? What about a photograph of a war? A riot? A natural calamity?

Which brings me to my question,
Is there a thing called the negative aesthetics?
From what I understand, negative aesthetics are those that evoke negative emotions amongst us. This could be sorrow, pain, disarray, hatred, grimace etc.

A few times I have also heard the term “anti-aesthetics“. Now this is something that is not aesthetical, but neither negatively aesthetical. So can we say the things that evoke no emotion within us are things that are anti-aesthetic? Things to which we are unresponsive.

When we talk about experience, we generally talk about the pleasurable experiences and hence the events are remembered for long. However, a nightmare, is equally reminiscence of the experience. An accident in an event that would have otherwise lead to a pleasant experience. The nightmare possesses negative aesthetics. The mind constantly aims to forget these things, but the very sight of any connecting element, reminds one of the bad experiences had.

In movies this happens quite a lot… You let out “an experience”s every-time you see them again and again. These incidents happens frequently in life as well. One small incident in childhood leaves a mark that haunts for life. You would loose count of the number of movies made on these lines.

So when we think about experience, why do we always think of only a positive experience? As experience designers we are constantly trying to design for the positive expressions.
Is there a way in which using negative aesthetics, one could build up to a positive aesthetics and in the end result in a positive experience (suspense movies, horror flicks do it all the time) .

How the balance is reached between the two is important. It is imperative for the designer to be able to create the positive experiences in the end.
After all who would not like to see more smiles on faces!

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