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Remus Breazu, “The Aestheticization of Violence in Images”, Philosophia, 2022

Remus Breazu, “The Aestheticization of Violence in Images”, Philosophia, 2022


The paper aims to give a phenomenological account of the way in which the experience of violence is modified in the aesthetic images. The phenomenological framework in which I place my analysis is primarily given by Edmund Husserl’s conception. The investigation starts from the curious fact that violence cannot be aesthetically experienced when it is presented in person, but it can be aesthetically experienced in images. I claim that the reason for this asymmetry lies in the structure of image-consciousness, that is, in the differences between the physical thing, the depicting object and the depicted subject. Given that the image-consciousness presupposes the background of the physical thing, which is constantly and implicitly aimed by the consciousness, it is possible to focus only on the manner in which the depicted violence appears. In this way, we can aesthetically contemplate a violent scene without being disturbed by it. To show this, I bring forth a brief presentation of the a priori structure of (i) image-consciousness and (ii) aesthetic attitude, as they have been theorised by Husserl. After (iii) providing a minimal concept of violence and explaining some of the modifications that violence undergoes in image-consciousness, (iv) I show how violence is modified in aesthetic images.