Some aesthetic forms ‘dramatise’ change. I call them ‘changescapes’. They help us know mutability by immersing us in it, by letting us be with it. Change is their theme and it is often their matter too, for they are usually of fragile and ephemeral stuff that reacts to altering conditions in the larger world. Transformations happen at their boundaries, at the limits between the inside and the outside of their systems, and then the symptoms of change become manifest in them, palpably available for our contemplation.
These aesthetic forms have become plenteous recently because we are ready now to understand them and because we need now to understand mutability with them. Versions of these forms have been in human cultures for ages. For example, in the Chinese shopping district of almost every sizable city in the world, you’ll find a wonderful shop dedicated to ‘live arts’, where you can buy your aquarium, horticultural and water-fountain supplies. But there’s something about the present historical moment that’s calling changescapes forth in greater numbers and greater variety.
Assaying these developments, this essay will finish in aesthetics and linguistics. But it starts with a story.
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