Helen Cresswell and Ruth Mason
Aesthetic Analysis and Visitors’ Experience of the 1862 International Exhibition
The London Conference of Critical Thought, 27th and 28th June 2014
In June 2014, Goldsmiths College, University of London, hosted the 3rd Annual London Conference of Critical Thought (LCCT). Run by scholars at all stages in their careers, engaging with critical thought from various different disciplinary perspectives, the conference provided a chance for conversation, debate and inspiration.
The editors of visit1862.com contributed to the ‘Street Level: Towards a Critical Discourse on Urban Aesthetics’ stream. Developed through discussion between geographers and artists, this stream explored empirical ways in which the concept of aesthetics can be used to understand the urban. One panel within the stream was specifically dedicated to historical engagements with the urban context, and the editors of visit1862.com contributed to this discussion through consideration of the merits of aesthetic analysis to understand visitors’ experience at the 1862 International Exhibition.
In a paper entitled ‘Aesthetic Analysis and Visitors’ Experience of the 1862 International Exhibition’, we considered various different ways of conceptualising ‘aesthetic analysis’ and discussed how examination of aesthetic provocation of all the senses provides a helpful means of approaching historical experiences of visitor attractions. An abbreviated version of the paper we gave can be found here on visit1862.com.
The other papers presented in our panels considered how workers influenced the aesthetics of industrial landscapes, including the Didcot Power Station and the development of the aesthetics of homelessness since the nineteenth century. These papers spoke to each other in interesting ways and led to a fruitful discussion about aesthetics and taste and the role of creators and users in the formation of aesthetics.