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This research establishes the significance and value of art concerned with social and political events, providing the first comprehensive analysis of the treatment of real events in art since the watershed of September 11, 2001. Practical Aesthetics demonstrates that the importance of art—in a context where media provides the dominant imagery of events—lies in the analysis of perception. This yields insights into the power, impact and effect of events, but also a practical way of apprehending and understanding occurences that shape our lives. The concept of a "practical aesthetics" is advanced by Bennett to identify and exemplify the use of aesthetic engagement as a way of approaching the relationship between the "viewer" and our sociopolitical habitat.
Bennett's research culminated in the publication of Practical Aesthetics: Events, Affect and Art After 9/11 in 2012. As part of I.B. Tauris’ Radical Aesthetics Radical Art series, the book examines a range of recent events to propose a new way of reading contemporary artworks and the impact of visual experience on our instrinsically historicised experience of time and space.
Practical Aesthetics was supported by the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Projects funding scheme (DP0879391)