Prof. Dr. Stefania Caliandro
Stefania Caliandro is a tenured professor at the École supérieure d’art et de design des Pyrénées, where she teaches philosophy of art and aesthetics on the site of Tarbes. After studying at the Università di Bologna, she obtained a Ph.D. from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. She taught and researched in several European universities – Marc Bloch in Strasbourg, France; Aarhus in Denmark; KU Leuven in Belgium; Freiburg in Switzerland; Hamburg in Germany – and in non-European universities – Laval and UQAM in Canada; UAM-A in Mexico; UFF in Brazil and as visiting professor at UERJ, Rio de Janeiro. She will soon present her research work at the Sorbonne Université in view of a habilitation to direct research (French HDR title).
Her research adresses key issues of aesthetics (perception, Einfühlung, the intelligibility of the sensitive, the definition of a logos of art, aesthetic instability etc.) from the perspective of a morphodynamic approach to complexity, which she articulates with particular attention to contemporary art and its evolution.
She participated in team research projects, and contributed to the organisation of international meetings, e.g. a research seminar at the Institut Universitaire de France, and contemporary art exhibitions, e.g. at the SMAK museum in Ghent, the Musée Massey in Tarbes, as well as artists’ residencies and exhibitions at the Contemporary – Festival d’arte e musica d’avanguardia, in Sardinia. Her papers have been presented in several conferences and congresses and have also been published. She collaborates with academic journals.
- Morphodynamics in Aesthetics. Essays on the Singularity of the Work of Art, Cham 2019.
- La vibration au tournant du XXe siècle et l’émergence de cette notion dans l’art, in: Aurélie Foglia, Nathalie Kramer and Sarah Nancy (eds.): Les cordes vibrantes de l’art. La relation esthétique comme résonance, Rennes 2021.
- co-edited with Angela Mengoni: Sémiotique de l’art. L’épaisseur à l’œuvre, Actes Sémiotiques, 127, Limoges, July 14, 2022.
- Fake Art, entre le contrefait et le contrefactuel, in: Interfaces numériques, Volume 11, n° 2, 2022: Images, mensonges et algorithmes. La sémiotique au défi du Deep Fake edited by Ludovic Châtenet, Limoges, July 26, 2022.
- Instability and aesthesia: art, semiotics and science edging catastrophe [theory], in: Amir Biglari (ed.): Open semiotics (forthcoming).
Research project: Aesthesia and Vibration: Reflections on Plastic Dynamics in Art
The project pursues a long-term study of aesthetic vibration in art theory and works of art. The idea of vibration was theorised in art at the beginning of the 20th century and exploited in numerous artists’ productions that, more or less intentionally, employ vibratory forms of different kind (chromatic, luminous, sounding, electrical, magnetic, radioactive, seismic...). Drawing on philosophical and art-historical considerations, with specific enquiries in physics, literature, music and qualitative mathematics, the study explores how, in philological and encyclopaedic terms, the idea of feeling vibrating in front of art has developed in our culture. In an attempt of defining a biosemiotic understanding of this phenomenon, it is hypothesised that perceptual and cognitive instabilities play a crucial role, putting in the way of the optimisation of sensory data and the semantic channelling of meaning, thus opening up a potential in aesthesic reception. As for the research at CAS, the analysis of works of art will bring into focus on how plastic dynamics act, accompanying and supporting the emergence of forms and figures, eliciting affects and atmospheric effects, as well as attracting the gaze towards properly material values. This point will lead to a reflection on the concept of plasticity, going beyond its delimitation to certain materials or genres, overcoming the traditional opposition between abstract and figurative, or between plastic and iconic, and perhaps matching recent neuroscientific research, with a view to a better understanding of morphodynamics in aesthetics.
Research results: Aesthesia and Vibration: Reflections on Plastic Dynamics in Art
Let me state that it was a very enhancing and absolutely productive period, and I am sincerely grateful for this opportunity. I was warmly welcomed into the research group, sharing reflections and discussions with advanced and junior researchers in a very generous and stimulating environment.
Regarding my research activities, I investigated further points for my study of vibration in art, as well as the concept of plasticity to be distinguished from plasmaticity.
Regarding my contribution to the Imaginarien der Kraft conference programme, my lecture “Aesthesia and vibration. Reflections on contemporary art with a focus on the works of three artists: Tomás Saraceno, Carsten Nicolai, Carsten Höller” showed how the idea of vibrating with art is not an all-times prerogative. According to a historical and etymological reconstruction, the figurative meaning of the term vibrate first appeared in the writings of Diderot, but was only used theoretically in relation to art in the writings of Wassily Kandinsky, at the beginning of the 20th century, to understand the aesthetic process, i.e. the interaction between the work and the observer. A brief overview of vibration in modern and contemporary art allowed me to illustrate how many artists not only develop an aesthetic about vibration, but use vibrations to make forms. I then focused on the works of three artists, each drawing on vibration in their own way: Tomás Saraceno articulates vibrations into dynamic connections by weaving relationship; Carsten Nicolai makes use of vibration as a means of creating by morphogenesis; Carsten Höller – in particular, one of his works – builds on the limits of a conscious sensory response to explore how vibration touches the neurobiological foundations of aesthesia. Concluding remarks, that include a biosemiotic and neurocognitive perspective, have led to an understanding of the function and functioning of aesthetic vibration as related to aesthesia and sense.