Screen 53 (2):164-179 (2012)

Ted Nannicelli
University of Queensland
This essay suggests that television aesthetics, as a research project, would benefit from attending to relevant theoretical debates in philosophical aesthetics. One reason for this is that assumptions about the ontology of television artworks are already embedded in our critical practices. We ought to be more aware of what these assumptions are and state them more explicitly. Moreover, I argue, for debates in television aesthetics to get off the ground, we need to ensure we bring the largely the same ontological assumptions to the table. We need to roughly agree about how television works are identified and individuated to ensure we are talking about the same works and that our debates are coherent. Referring to television works as 'texts' can make their ontology seem radically different from what our common creative and critical practices suggest, but I argue that a more precise use of language will help clarify ontological matters. Furthermore, I argue that the tacit ontological conceptions embedded in our creative and critical practices cannot be overturned by revisionist theories; rather, they actually determine the sort of ontological things to which we refer with terms like ‘episode’ and ‘series’. I conclude by attempting to show that our standard critical practices involve the tacit assumption that successfully realized artistic intentions establish the spatio-temporal boundaries of television works.
Keywords Aesthetics  Metaphysics of art  Philosophy of film
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DOI 10.1093/screen/hjs004
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