Re: [xmca] Dewey's Art as Experience

From: Beth Ferholt (
Date: Thu Oct 19 2006 - 18:21:24 PDT

We've moved the discussion to XMCA, so we all are signed up, no?
(And if we continue this discussion at lchc lab meetings, we can
continue to post notes.)
On Oct 19, 2006, at 5:14 PM, Cunningham, Donald James wrote:

> What a great discussion! How do I sign up?????
> A meta comment, in no way meant as criticism. We used to take turns
> on XMCA volunteering to manage, summarize, and commentate, etc. in
> the way that Beth has done here. I confess that I miss those
> days........djc
> Don Cunningham
> Indiana University
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [mailto:xmca-
>] On Behalf Of Beth Ferholt
> Sent: Thursday, October 19, 2006 2:00 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity
> Cc:; Anna Rainio;
> Subject: [xmca] Dewey's Art as Experience
> This past Monday we had a lab meeting at LCHC in which we discussed
> the first chapter of Dewey's Art as Experience, led by Matt Brown of
> the Philosophy Department here at UCSD. We thought the discussion
> was relevant to some of the recent XMCA topics -- the entire
> 'interweaving' thread, original experiences (mentioned by Don, from
> James), “face” (mentioned by Michael, from Levinas) are what
> strike me as the most closely related topics, but there are others as
> well. Below is the handout that Matt provided, as well as my notes
> on the discussion (no one was taking notes for anyone outside the
> room at the start of the meeting, but they should be helpful anyhow!).
> By way of introduction, this quarter at LCHC we have been presenting
> our varied uses of video in our research. Matt's presentation was in
> part in response to issues of representation of complex social
> interactions in general, and was also a response to my wondering why
> art has been central to my own efforts to analyze, and communicate
> with fellow researchers on our playworld project, about
> perezhivaniye. Also, many of us have been thinking about
> ethnographic practice through an on-line and in-lab discussion which
> Ed Hutchins has initiated concerning his development of a digital
> cognitive ethnographic method.
> Beth
> The discussion moved first to Dewey's claim that experience has a
> certain rhythm of equilibrium-disequilibrium.
> (How does this compare to Vygotsky's claims in 'The Psychology of
> Art'?)
> For both the artist and the scientist, although the first is focused
> on producing experiences and the second on problems, the rhythm of
> the process is the rhythm of experiencing.
> Here we struggled to express ourselves and someone observed the
> importance of temporality – that our language is inadequate to
> capture the process we were discussing.
> (In a way this is part of what brought us to the discussion in the
> first place: do we turn to video in our ethnography because words are
> inadequate for expressing complex social interactions, as they are
> unfolding through time? if so, what video techniques are we making
> use of? techniques from art or science? At one point someone asks if
> the technology we are using was designed for art or science, at the
> time we are discussing sound recording, and while people think it was
> a scientist, Edison, who first used the technology, they think he
> first used it to sing a song!)
> We became temporarily lost in a dead end which pits entertaining
> oneself with art against using art as a scientist, using art to help
> answer a problem.
> Mike takes us out of this dead end by stating that the problem is one
> of communicating about perezhivaniye in order to make it empirical
> and objective – that no progress has been made since Dewey on
> writing about experience. In order to analyze and represent
> experience we need a technique which enables the creation of a
> concept that encompasses emotion and thought.
> But, is it possible to develop a method which is a fusion of art and
> science?
> How could this be possible if artists and scientists have different
> goals?
> Perhaps we are looking for a multi-method approach.
> We asked if perhaps Luria was in pursuit of such a multi-method
> approach with his Romantic Science.
> Somewhere in this first part of the discussion we also tackled,
> although haphazardly, the false distinction between what Dewey calls
> art and esthetics -- the making and perceiving of art. I'll put here
> a quote from Ch. 3 of 'Art as Experiencing" that I mentioned at this
> point:
> "In short, art, in its form, unites the very same relation of doing
> and undergoing, outgoing and incoming energy, that makes an
> experience be an experience... The doing or making is artistic when
> the perceived result is of such a nature that its qualities as
> perceived have controlled the question of production... The artist
> embodies in himself the attitude of the perceiver while he
> works." (p. 50--Perigee edition, 2005) Dewey gives an example of a
> work of 'art' being moved from an art museum to a natural history
> museum when it is found not to be a product of another culture but
> instead an accidental natural product: the point is that the esthetic
> experience is directly connected to the experience of making.
> We then moved to another area of interest in Ch. 1.
> Mike points us to: learning by expanding!:
> "... if life continues and if in continuing it expands, there is an
> overcoming of factors of opposition and conflict; there is a
> transformation of theminto different aspects of a higher powered and
> more significant life. The marvel of organic, of vital, adaption
> through expansion (instead of by contraction and passive
> accommodation) actually takes place. Here in germ are balance and
> harmony attained through rhythm. Equilibrium comes about not
> mechanically and inertly but out of, and because of, tension." (p. 13)
> And Zoped, too:
> "There is in nature, even below the level of life, something more
> than mere flux and change. Form is arrived at whenever a stable,
> even though moving, equilibrium is reached. Changes interlock and
> sustain one another. Wherever there is this coherence there is
> endurance. Order is not imposed from without but is made out of the
> relations of harmonious interactions that energies bear to one
> another. Because it is active (not anything static because foreign
> to what goes on) order itself develops. It comes to include within
> its balanced movement a greater variety of changes. " (p. 13)
> We returned to the discussion of science itself, and someone pointed
> to Dewey's example of the mountain top: although above the clouds, it
> not only rests on the earth, it is the earth. This is his claim
> concerning art (as Vygotsky wrote that even a child is creative
> -- ). Is it what we are claiming about science? (The question, 'Is
> ethnography science?", from the discussion as the dsog lab, is
> raised.)
> Here experimental writing, particularly Yvonne Lincolon Norman Denzin
> 's 2007 workshop, was recommended for those interested in the work of
> others who have found the boundary between art and science to be
> fuzzy.
> Ray McDermott's poetic writing was also mentioned.
> We returned to a discussion of perezhivaniye -- it's colloquial vs.
> technical meaning, F. Vasiluk, and then time was up.
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