Balancing connections: The fulcrum of art and aesthetics at work

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Whether appraising a sculpture, a painting or a performance, we intuitively seek out the fulcrum, the balancing centre of the work. In the case study of the Toppled Crane the "fulcrum" is a crane driver who underestimated the weight of his load; he now lies pinned awkwardly in his cab, requiring a complex rescue effort. I propose that emergency responders in command roles are basing their decisions on more than scientifically verifiable measurement and calculation. I maintain that they are aesthetically and somatically attuned to reading the incident scene, relying on their experienced aesthetic awareness in the same way as an artist involved in image construction or art criticism. The research utilised a multimodal visual methodology which examined decision making as an aesthetic judgement. Fourteen in depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with Australian fire officers in command roles. This paper presents one case study, the Toppled Crane, in which I demonstrate the balance of various complex tensions rather than their resolution. The implications of drawing an aesthetic connection between emergency responders and art practitioners reduces the dangers of focusing solely on measurement, procedure and the constraints of applying rational logic, in complex situations demanding a holistically informed response.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalThe International Journal of Arts Theory and History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


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