Still Moving

Debates in Aesthetics 15 (1):35-50 (2020)
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Abstract
Here is something puzzling. Still Lifes can be expressive. Expression involves movement. Hence, (some) Still Lifes move. This seems odd. I consider a novel explanation to this ‘static-dynamic’ puzzle from Mitchell Green (2007). Green defends an analysis of artistic expressivity that is heavily indebted to work on intermodal perception. He says visual stimuli, like colours and shapes, can elicit experienced resemblances to sounds, smells and feelings. This enables viewers to know how an emotion feels by looking at the picture. The hypothesis is intriguing, but I show that his suggestion that we empathize with the pictorial content is implausible and that this exposes a flaw in the way his argument moves from experiential mappings to experiential-affective mappings. Consequently, I register some reservations about the way Green supposes we detect these cross-modal qualities.
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