Call for Papers: The Aesthetics of Attention

Annual Conference of the Nordic Society of Aesthetics

Online, 20–21 May, 2021

We are surrounded by a proliferation of channels, streams and texts clamoring to be consumed. Images are produced, made public and circulated on an unparalleled scale. When we click, search and ‘like’, our attention is measured, curiously scrutinized and commodified, resulting in what some scholars have identified as the rise of an attention economy. The phrase that attention is something you pay, has been literalized in the neoliberal era of digitalization.

More broadly the concept of attention can be related to issues of selection, norms, struggle and bias. In the process of sorting, one cannot help but miss something, and this is a condition, not only in contemporary media culture, but also for perception and experience at an ontological level.

In which ways is it, in relation to aesthetic experience, possible to conceptualize the “attentional” agency of the subject of experience? And how might aesthetic practices and objects (artworks, and aesthetic phenomena in a broader sense) as well as contemporary media ecologies be seen as facilitators of certain modes of attention?

The aim of the conference is to investigate the relationship between aesthetics and attention in various ways: In philosophical aesthetics, in art institutions, within the field of art histories, post-/decolonialism and cultural criticism.

The conference is an invitation to consider:

  • The current transformations of aesthetic norms and cultural hierarchies
  • The role(s) of media/technology in the changing ecologies of attention
  • Attention as an analytical or aesthetic category
  • Historical, philosophical and theoretical perspectives on attention as a term
  • Aesthetic methodologies understood as certain ways of paying attention
  • Implications regarding concepts such as overload, contemplation, distraction, boredom etc. 
  • Affective aspects of attention

We ask for papers on both contemporary as well as classical and historical issues, and suggested topics of interest would include questions related to aesthetic experience in general as well as analyses of visual art, architecture, music, and literature or other aesthetic phenomena, which thematize the concept of attention. 

Confirmed keynote speakers: Ina Blom (Oslo/Chicago) and Yves Citton (Paris 8/ArTeC).

Venue: Online platform

Further information about the conference and registration will be announced on the conference website: https://events.au.dk/nsa2021aarhus.

We encourage scholars to form panels to discuss issues mentioned above, and submit a panel proposal. The time allocated for a panel consisting of 3-4 contributions is 60 minutes, including time for discussion. We also look forward to receiving proposals for individual papers. The time allocated for a paper is 10 minutes, plus 15 minutes for discussion. PhD students are strongly encouraged to submit a proposal. Please send abstracts not exceeding 500 words (panels) or 300 words (individual papers) toNSA2021Aarhus@cc.au.dk no later than 15 February 2021. Selection will be based on quality, relevance to the conference theme, and program considerations. Notification of acceptance will be sent out by 15 March 2021. In order to allow participants to prepare for the discussion accepted papers – of up to 14.400 characters incl. spaces – should be submitted before 6 May 2021 to NSA2021Aarhus@cc.au.dk.

The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics plans to publish an issue on “The Aesthetics of Attention” in continuation of the conference.

Conference fee:

Standard: 70 EUR / 520 DKK

PhD Students and scholars without institutional affiliation: 50 EUR / 370 DKK

The fee includes one year membership of The Nordic Society of Aesthetics and one year subscription to The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics.

If you have already paid your membership fee of The Nordic Society of Aesthetics, the conference fee is 20 EUR / 150 DKK.

The Organizers: 

Jacob Lund, Birgitte Stougaard Pedersen, Mette-Marie Zacher Sørensen, Maj Ørskov & Maja Bak Herrie –Aarhus University, Denmark.