Aesthetic Experience

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Middlebury College
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Aesthetic experience refers the emphasis on aesthetic values over moral or social themes. The artists and writers tend to hold that the purpose f art is to provide a refined sensuous pleasure, and not just convey moral or sentimental messages.

As an artist in her argument, World of Warcraft Nardi is not only a representation of a work of art, but it is also "a new visual-performative medium" which provides an aesthetic experience that is activity- based.This is in the works of art, the new performative medium (i.e., video games). Nardi comes to the realization of the cooperativeness of WoW players in responding to challenging game content, as they are pursuing new virtual vistas of this new visual-performative medium (p. 52). There is a link between WoW to "real life" visual-performative activities like dance. This gives the players an experience that can be likened to dance Visual Performative. It is this combination, where there is easy access to aesthetic experience as well as having that feeling of mastery which has transformed virtual worlds into being an integrated part of the lives of many people.

Moral Panic

Moral Panic was an expression that was coined in 1972 by Stanley Cohen in his book "Folk Devils and Moral Panics." His findings came to the conclusion that a Moral Panic can be likened to a media generated movement on the basis of the belief that some individual or group (in most cases a youth or minority group) is dangerously deviant hence posing as a threat to society. A lot of video games are increasingly containing what is considered forbidden media content with susceptible people mostly those interested in social support get addicted posing as a threat hence the widespread moral panic.

There have been media stories on addicted video game players who pose as a threat to themselves and the society. Some video games are full of derogatory images and stories which consequently have a cult like following who are willing to go to whatever lengths to relieve their gaming experience in the real world. Because of a lack of self-regulation what proceeds is a problematic use of video games. Nardi shows an interest in how other players' responses (in the social context) supported and reinforced self-regulation. She equates dedication with addiction hence is of the perception that addiction and dedication is one and the same at least in the gaming fraternity.

Moral panic thrives on fear of a minor threat or an idea that spurs fear to cause it to spread and the level of concern is blown out of proportion. We cannot ignore the fact of the presence of Gory comics which are corrupting the mind of the children which in the end constitutes to moral panic. In echoing the words of a video game addict "dedicated" who massacred ten people in Umpqua campus, Oregon, the USA "I've been waiting to do this for years" (Chris Harper-Mercer) who after reliving his gaming experience in real life killed himself. Moral panic is not overreacting, what some people term as paranoia is actually affecting people especially the youths and they are becoming a threat to both themselves and the society.

Magic Circle

Magic circle was first extensive addressed by Johan Huizinga (1872 - 1945) who was a Dutch historian and one of the pioneers of modern cultural history. He discusses a critical concept: that is the idea of the "magic circle" in his book "Homo Ludens" (1938). In this book, he discussed the possibility of playing turning out to be the primary formative element in human culture. Real-world events have special meanings in the magic circle.

"The magic circle is a place of dreams and fantasy. It's an escape for everyday problems and chores. And the most important: everything inside the magic circle is, in some way, transformative. Each time a person leaves the magic circle, they bring meaning and experience." (Adams & Rollings, 2009, page 8):

WoW, players'are an excellent demonstration of this due to their consistent work with their play boundary crossing which clarifies that the magic circle is not a rigid border, but having a conceptual value as a site where there is a making and sharing of meaning. The notion of play as a magic circle (i.e., a protected space shielded from the encroachments of the daily routine in life such as work, school, and chores.) Magic circle draws upon the distinction between "gameplay"( i.e., mere game performance) and "games" as a cultural entity such as hopscotch or World of Warcraft.

In the observation of play by Vandenberg (1998) "The ease with which the real can be rendered not real, by the simple signal, 'This is play,' reveals the contingency and fluidity of the social construction of reality."

Activity Theory

Activity theory is a conceptual framework with its origin being from the socio- cultural tradition in Russian psychology by psychologist Aleksei Leontiev . Regarding this, it is imperative to, first of all, understand the foundational concept of the framework is "activity." Activity is regarded to as a purposeful, transformative, and developing interaction that takes place between actors/or in this case gamers ("subjects") and the world/or in this case games ("objects"). In activity theory, activity is at all times viewed to be comprising of subjects and objects instead of being their byproduct (Kaptelinin & Nardi 2006).

Activity Theory 3 is at play as it is how Nardi is using action, object, and activity, with her argument being that these terms are essential when it comes to thinking and talking about games and the reasons as to why we play them. Activity can become an action hence we can pose the question: why are games and playing such a big part of popular culture? Arguably the best answer to this is that games and playing provide an aesthetic experience terms drawn in the activity theory hierarchy in order to expound upon the meaning of aesthetic experience. Nardi interpretation is that people play games in order have an aesthetic experience, and in producing this experience, Nardi states that an aesthetic experience has got to have a "subjective disposition" toward activity. This is seen in Nardi's WoW: sociality, engagement with visual beauty, and performative mastery transforming experience to a kind of activity.

Digital Theory

Digital theory looks at how digital technologies are increasingly becoming immaterial and invisible and appearing to be accorded a purpose and functionality in particularized social, cultural/ spatial context. There is a growing genre of "digital ethnography" based on Ethnographic methods such as interviews, conversation, document analysis, and participant-observation that is being used in the exploration of exploring virtual worlds as well as their subjects who are technomediated.

In Nardi's book, we see a demonstration of anthropologists having new worlds and "tribes" for having their studies while sitting around a virtual bonfire. Digital theory is greatly expounded on by Nardi in her illustration of the importance of video games to a varied group of players in their daily life, which is also their source of aesthetic experiences. The digital world is a "separate" visually absorbing world that serves as an escape from distraction and is also a social platform for the purposes of communication, interaction, having a good time with other human beings. Through digital theory we see how virtual worlds are increasingly becoming new arenas for communication and collaboration, being simultaneously powered as well as restricted by technology. Nardi excellently demonstrates that digital world like through gaming are able to provide opportunities for far more than mere escapism or idle recreation. Digital theory gives us a deeper understanding of it innate broad as well as profound social interaction.

Section 2 Essays


Fashion constitutes a major component of our global popular culture. Clothing lies in fashion, and the changes here is fast and furious. Clothes share characteristics with other commodities of popular culture. Styles in clothing from time immemorial have been incorporated not only by designers and public figures but also by consumers in their daily lives. Influences in clothing fashion can be traced to styles arising from different subcultures, racial communities and leisure interest groups. On the continuous basis, people have been bombarded with facets of popular clothing culture in the media, along with the streets and in clothing stores.

Pop culture has resulted in the demise of traditional categories and boundaries in clothing as a result of being polluted by phenomena like gender bending as well as mixing of styles ranging from different cultures and eras. It is possible to find out the origins of clothing by looking back in time, due to the varying change in trends throughout each generation. Clothing goes as far back to the ancient era having evolved throughout society, adapting to the changing environment. Clothing is widespread within contemporary popular culture however its development has been happening in different places all over the world being highly reflective in countries that are well- developed.

Fairy tales

Folklore is a major part of being human and its discipline studies the unofficial, the spoken, as well as the traditional forms of expressed culture like legends, myths, folk music among others.Folklore is usually contrasted with the printed word, but still with the recent growth of the internet and digital communications the realms of popular culture has been brought increasingly closer to folklore as well. The interpretation of various folklore materials draws on theories from various fields like Communications, English and Cultural Studies among others.

As fairy tales are migrating into new cultures as well as new media in a constant way, they are being reinvented along the way. Particularly recent years have seen waves of highly innovative as well as highly disputable fairy-tale being retold in popular culture. For example a very common fairy tale is that of vampires with a common belief that they regardless of them being cold blooded killers and only active at night as well as being ugly creatures of the dark such as in classical Dracula movies but with the changing times they have been transformed into good-looking and humanly creatures living among us. We see this from age-old classical movies such as such as True Blood, Twilight, The Vampire Diaries. Contemporary popular culture is awash in vampire stories. This kind of shift is a sign which signifies a profound change in the consciousness of Americans being marked by the difference between a vampire story that used to have an entertainment value which lies in the pursuit and destruction of a basically bloodthirsty demon to one that is basically a romance where we see vampires to being romantic creatures.


Capitalism has assimilated into itself all aspects of life and society hence contemporary popular culture has been highly commercialized for the profit culture. Capitalism has basically commoditized almost every aspect of contemporary popular culture through the extension of the production, reception and function of their artistic capacities. An accurate account of the extent to which this has taken place in contemporary popular culture, mainly with regards to it being so commoditized, is based on an analysis which takes this into account. Therefore one can say that the main purpose of art (as well as popular culture) in a society in which each and everything is commodified signifies that very commodification.

In America, the growth of mass culture has been influenced and shaped by the growth of the capitalist economic system. A consumer driven popular culture whose main driver is for the profi...

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