The author examines the notion of informational aesthetics. The origin of aesthetics lies in Epicurus’s notion of aesthesis and the integration of artistic activity within ethics and the ‘good life’—as in the aesthetic theory and practice of the East. The debasement of the word ‘aesthetic’ reflects the increasing alienation of beauty from imagination. The fragmentation of art now packaged as media objects in our digital world is the legacy of this alienation. The author retraces the history of the concept of information aesthetics developed in the 1960s by Birkhoff, Bense and Mole and which sought to marry mathematics, computation and semiotics with artistic activity, based on Birkhoff’s aesthetic measure, and to bridge the gap between science and the humanistic imagination. The failure of the cognitive school is attributed to the limitations of its data-driven view of art itself as an affordance of perception (Arnheim). The roles of algorithmically generated art and of Computational Aesthetic Evaluation (CAE) are assessed. An appeal is made to the more fertile conceptual ground of information civilization—an idea developed by Professor Kun Wu. The author introduces the concept of digital iconography and applies it to Renaissance masterpieces such as Raphael’s School of Athens and Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. In conclusion, Informational Aesthetics is identified as a future discipline for the Philosophy of Information.
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