The Aesthetics Research Lab was conceived as a digital think tank and resource, revolving around theoretical and practical issues in aesthetics. This site is run and curated by Michael Spicher, who began studying theories of beauty and aesthetics over a decade ago. Since that starting point, he has published articles, given lectures (to academics and general audiences), and earned a PhD in philosophy focusing on Aesthetics and Political Philosophy. He serves as an editor for the Leonardo Electronic Almanac, published by MIT Press and a contributing associate for Createquity. As an artist, he writes fiction, paints, and plays harmonica and slide guitar.
Aesthetic experience is a basic motivation for people. From decorating our homes to viewing art and natural wonders, people assert effort to incorporate aesthetics into their lives. Yet aesthetics is often mentioned as something trivial or additional. While aesthetic experiences are not basic needs to sustain biological life, the beautiful and sublime are necessary for people’s well-being, regardless of their lot.
For a while, beauty, the sublime, taste, and aesthetic experience had been overlooked by many in the academic profession. These ideas have recently received more attention among professionals and researchers, yet many individuals and groups focus mostly on the arts. While the arts are worthy of attention, this site seeks to present work and ideas surrounding aesthetics from any field or discipline: math, science, art, politics, environmental studies, government, and so on. As such, this site has three main goals:
- Advocate for the importance of aesthetics for our communities
- Collect and connect research from different disciplines engaged with aesthetic questions
- Present the value of beauty and the sublime (and other properties) for people’s well-being