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Bodies That Matter: Miniaturisation and the Origin(s) of ‘Art’


Small things matter, especially in the so-called ‘arts’. From the visual arts to music and literature, ‘miniatures’ are a transcultural and transhistorical phenomenon that involves our aesthetic attitudes but also our everyday life, our emotional, social and cognitive life. Miniaturisation characterises our cognitive life and, of course, the ‘cognitive life of things’ that we produce, manipulate and discard. My paper is articulated into two sections: the first gives a quick overview of the miniatures of Homo sapiens, especially those of the paleolithic age, and a brief survey of the very challenging history of miniature-interpretation in twentieth-century philosophy of culture. In the second part I focus on five cognitive interpretations of miniature, which are supported by some experimental evidence.