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Title: Aphasic Aesthetics: Thinking with the Body across Disability Studies, Media Art and Phenomenology
Authors: Toye, Megan
Issue Date: 13-Jul-2016
Abstract: This paper explores the intersection between speech therapy, immersive multimedia installation art and phenomenological approaches to empathy. Taking as a case study contemporary artists that are engaging in a dialogue with individuals who suffer from aphasia (a communication disorder caused by brain damage or stroke that reduces one's ability to speak or use words coherently), this paper aims to discern how current models of spectatorship within media art history can be re­worked through an affective epistemology that emphasizes the role of the body in processes of meaning­making and speech. What will be probed in detail is how the development of an affective epistemology can be of benefit to aphasic speech therapies, as well as how a consideration of the role of the body within spectatorship can nuance current theorizations of empathetic witnessing in contemporary media art. In analyzing the aesthetic practices of artists Imogen Stidworthy and Ann Hamilton, I will argue that the fields of speech therapy, media art history and phenomenology can speak to each other in mutually beneficial ways by bringing to the fore the primary role the body plays in fostering inter­subjective communication and social understanding.
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