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Aesthetics of Religion: Images and Sounds

Session Chair: George Ioannides | Thursday, August 27, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

Hubert Mohr

The Religion and the Nuclear Waste Dump - Notes on the stability and perdurability of sacred signs and their aesthetics

Departing from the debate on the semiotics of nuclear waste disposal sites during the 1980s and 1990s (Thomas A. Sebeok; Roland Posner) the paper discusses the dynamics of signs (e.g. sign usage or significations processes) in which religions are involved to produce cultural and social stability and sustainability. Comparing different types of religion (complex Western religion as Christianity; Aborigine religion) the presentations will try to establigh a model for communications into the future through materials, rituals, body relics or symbolizing oral and visual techniques. The approach will centre on aesthetics of religion as an integrative theory of cultural semiotics, communication theory, social design and aesthetization.

Anastasia Serghidou

The invention of religious monumentality and the challenge of thaumasiourgia within the ancient body-culture

R. Schuman (The Conscience of the Body )introduces the concept of the 'soma-aesthetic' in order to formulate his arguments on the ethico-political challenge and its image as a “site” of sensorial apprehension (aesthesis) reflecting a metaphor of architectural construction.

This epistemological approche, helps us to designate the function of the body as a 'signifier' of aesthetic usages and a stylisation of the self within a monumental world. This recalls us M. Merleau-Ponty’s concepts (Phénomenologie de la perception, Paris, 1943), notably in relation with the body as an epicenter of aesthetic combination of gestures and a topos of metaphorical expression of geomorphy. By taking these epistemological approaches we examine the conceptualisation of physis, morphè, ousia and the way they interfere, with place, monumentality and miraculous events.

At first place 1 examine monuments or places they persisted as generators of thaumata(miracles). 1 mainly insist on the impact body movement presented through the formulation of what F.Barker calls a 'corporeal history' (The Tremulous Private Body, Ann Arbor, 1995). 1n a second place 1 insist on the way some authors such as Theophrastus or Epictitus underline, through the metaphorical symmetries, the image of the body-self and the strategies of monumentalisation. 1 also insist on the way transgression of the self-control resulting from an hybristic behavior, puts in question religious and political monumentality. At this point we may refer to the way Epictitus treats the Akropolis as a continuum of the self (Epictitus, Entretiens, 1V). To go further we take the example of the suffering body, the thaumaturgic issues and the toponymics related to the connection of disease, miraculous healings and local rituals. ( see the example of Lepreus Pausanias, 1.V.2-5; 1.V.8-V1.1 ).

Eimir O'Brien

Ecclesiastical Art in 1960s Ireland: Visual Culture as Methodology

This paper illustrates how a methodology, based within the field of Visual Culture, can utilise stylistic changes in religious art works as a vehicle for understanding wider changes within a cultures relationship with religion. Focusing on 1960s Ireland, I would argue that, during a period of change and uncertainty, contemporary ecclesiastical art appears to have had the ability to focus public debate on issues around devotion within modernity. Further, it will be suggested that, by envisioning new forms of sacred art, artists were giving material form to some of the abstract and theological and liturgical debates that were taking place at the time. And finally, that this work helped facilitate a negotiated process of visualising not only what forms modern church art might take, but how the Catholic church in Ireland might develop as a religious and cultural community.

Marian Caulfield

Rupturing epistemologies through aural explorations in the study of religions

Whilst there is no doubt that in Western academia, important methodological foundations for study of religions have been set, in this paper, I will highlight how recent research in the area of religion and sonic worldviews has been shaking up methodological mores within the discipline. I will state why development in and attention to this field of research should be regarded as essential to the future development of the discipline if it is to stay relevant, up to date and attractive to young and innovative scholars. I will highlight how modern scholars have been pushing the boundaries in this field and I will particularly focus on how research pertaining to the aural and sonic aspect of worldviews has been rupturing epistemologies in the study of religions with some suggestions as to a way for way through interdisciplinary endeavors.


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