On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2015, the Journal of Somaesthetics (JOS) launched its first issue, entitled Somaesthetics and Visual Art.
What is somaesthetics? As its Wiktionary definition indicates, the term derives from combining the somatic with the aesthetic, and it originated in the philosophical theory of Richard Shusterman.
By now, however, somaesthetics is an interdisciplinary and international research project. It is devoted to the critical study and meliorative cultivation of the experience and use of the living, sentient body (or soma) as a site of sensory appreciation (aesthesis) and creative self-stylization. An ameliorative discipline of both theory and practice, somaesthetics is concerned with a wide diversity of knowledge forms, discourses, social practices and institutions, cultural traditions and values, and bodily disciplines that structure and can improve our somatic understanding and cultivation.
As an interdisciplinary project, somaesthetic research cannot fit neatly into the standard disciplinary journals of academic scholarship. It therefore requires a journal of its own in which somaesthetic research on different topics and from diverse disciplines can come together for productive, critical dialogue that will advance the somaesthetic project.
We launched the Journal of Somaesthetics on Valentine’s Day as a gesture of loving respect for the soma and for researchers who are interested in its scholarly and creative study. If contemporary society has fervently and often blindly fetishized the body, then interdisciplinary academic research has not yet given the body the loving attention it deserves. Somaesthetics (along with its journal) is not limited to one theoretical field, academic vocabulary, cultural ideology, or particular set of bodily disciplines. Rather it aims to provide an overarching theoretical structure and a set of basic and versatile conceptual tools to enable a more fruitful interaction and integration of the very diverse forms of somatic knowledge currently being practiced and pursued.
The journal, currently published by Aalborg University Press and involving a collaboration between Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Body, Mind, and Culture and Aalborg University’s research project in body, art, and technology, is generously supported by the Obel Family Foundation and Schmidt Family Foundation. It will begin by publishing two issues a year, each issue focusing on a specific topic. The Journal of Somaesthetics, edited by Else Marie Bukdahl, Richard Shusterman, and Stahl Stenslie, has chosen an open access, online format because this allows more freedom in the use of visual images and audiovisual clips. This first issue of the Journal of Somaesthetics deploys this freedom in its focus on visual art.
Reflecting somaesthetics deep concern for practice and for a transcultural global perspective, this issue of the Journal includes dialogues with three important contemporary artists whose practice is internationally renowned and who stem from three different continents: Olafur Eliasson (Denmark), Stelarc (Australia), and Pan Gongkai (China). For more information about the Journal of Somaesthetics or more generally about the somaesthetics project, please contact any of the three editors or visit the Journal’s homepage.