What is the relationship between aesthetics and movement? What kind of aesthetic receptivity does the experience of movement produce? Here my interest is less psychological than historical and cultural. My interest is in how the experience of art is anticipated, mediated and structured by conventional patterns of movement – particularly walking. And yet not simply walking as a physical activity – but by tours, journeys, promenades and strolls. And the walking is not just anywhere. Nor is it entirely informed by the presence of art. Instead I am thinking of a kind of antechamber – an initial space that must be passed through in order to pass within and encounter art itself. I am thinking, for instance, of the Grand Tour, which involved a passage across Europe and through the Alps prior to descending into the properly aesthetic landscape of Italy (Florence, Venice, Rome, Naples, etc.) Or of the aesthetic philosophy of Kant, where the movement through natural beauty provides a means of comprehending art. This is not quite literal movement of course, but there is still a sense of passage and movement – the experience of nature serves to anticipate the experience of art. The same movement remains even within critical modernist aesthetics; Adorno considers the aesthetic quality of natural beauty before focusing more specifically on art. So my concern is not just with walking per se, but with the literal and metaphorical movement that frames, precedes and informs the experience of art.
(I am also interested in how nature is depicted at the margins of various paintings from the Renaissance – small curious animals, bushes and shrubs, rocky grottoes and distant peaks. These curiously charged margins suggest that any particular focused mythological scene is inevitably framed by a difficult journey.)