What is Relational Aesthetics?

Relational aesthetics involve the incorporation of the viewing audience into a piece of art. In other words, the artist aims to model the day to day social life of peoples into art. In this regard, art is described as embodied imagination of relationships between humans. Relational aesthetics has embraced spiritual experiences being portrayed visually. Important elements of religious life that have been embodied in relational aesthetics include mysticism, sacred texts and other religious influences. Furthermore, artists continue to use relational aesthetics to help audiences better understand religion and spirituality.

An example is the artistic work of Bill Viola, a video artist, who demonstrates the ascension and resurrection process in his artistic work “Five Angels of the Millenium” (Arya pt. 1). These installations prompts the viewer to critically reflect and contemplate on the spiritual phenomenon of sublime. The work which touches sublime qualities such as vastness, obscurity and infinity, is a recreation of the Christion practice of baptism. The title of the work, “Five Angels of the Millennium”, further portray the artist’s efforts to strike a relationship with the contents of the work and the viewers.