The meaning of environmental aesthetics: For what? For whom?

Studies on environmental aesthetics discuss the notion of aesthetics in relation to people's perception of the environment, their emotional and behavioral responses to the perceived, and the relationships between them. This directly resumes individual experiences in space. Respectively, the field acknowledges that aesthetic judgement is based on subjective experiences yet it also argues that the objectivity can be found among people with similar age, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. In urban life processes. While this requires an understanding of aesthetics as a subjective matter, it also calls for deciphering aesthetics as an objective matter as part of space production. Research on urban environmental aesthetics often positions individuals in the center of the notion yet it is also strongly attracted by the charm of the form. This way of seeking the objectivity often limits research within cause and effect relationships about this experience with the product of people, the aesthetics of the form or the spatial outcome. This excludes the construction of aesthetic form as part of urban life processes. Studies in other fields such as biology, psychobiology, quantum physics and neurosciences reveal two important discoveries that may shed light to how aesthetics can be undertaking with a wider perspective in urban studies. The first claims that the form composes %0.01 of the experienced ecosystem. The rest %99.99, which is the formless, is composed of multiple dimensions, not being looked as a form to us yet interacting with each other through multiple relations. And it is this interaction which produces the form while shaping and being shaped by the formless. The second discovery argues that the perceived can be shaped with respect to the perception experience of the perceiver. This implies that people have the capacity to create its own aesthetics, and thereby, should have the right to create it in social systems. With reference to these studies, looking at the form within a life perspective can allow understanding of aesthetics as a process. Then, such a process can be collectively constructed as part of urban space production through the engagement of people and the moderation of dialogue between them. This kind of approach does not only shift aesthetics from a subjective notion to an objective one, but it may also enable the democratization of societies through shared objectification of aesthetics.
Citation Formats
A. Ataöv Demirkan, “The meaning of environmental aesthetics: For what? For whom?,” presented at the International Symposium of Aesthetics: “Aesthetics of the City” - Uluslararası Estetik Sempozyumu: “Kent Estetiği” (2 - 4 Kasım 2017), Antalya, Türkiye, 2017, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: