Aversive Aesthetics

Research can be disgusting

Aversion has a paradoxical effect: as much as we want to run away from disgusting things, we feel attracted to them as well. There is something so tantalizing in the fear and shock when we watch movies we don’t want to see, sniff at things we don’t want to smell and listen to stories we don’t want to hear. I studied ways of harnessing the invitation that lies hidden in repulsion to develop a new way of storytelling. Is there a way to enrich the aesthetic by triggering an aversive emotion: disgust?

On the pictures below you’ll see the outcome of the research where the main goal was to find out if it’s possible to use disgust as an aesthetic value. I bundled all of the research in the book ‘Aversive Aesthetics’ and there are nine books filled with visual research and six photographs as an end result which function as a small campaign promoting the potential of the aversive.

Art direction / research / photography: Merel Witteman
Research texts: scientist as quoted in the book
Found footage: from the darkest places on the internet
Year: 2014, graduation project






exposetting during Dutch Design Week 2014