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The philosophy of aesthetics is a human phenomenon that spans across 4 basic disciplines including imitationalism, formalism, instrumentalism, and emotionalism. Although many might consider this subject matter to be somewhat immaterial, the psychology behind aesthetics, as it pertains to our automotive desires, continually weaves and shapes an interesting path by which we perceive the world around us and our set of wheels, or vice versa. To the layman, aesthetics as it was interpreted after the late 19th century, was simply referred to as the beauty surrounding virtually anything the human mind could interpret and judge.

Yes, you heard that correctly. Regardless of whether we choose to believe it, the human race has an irrepressible need to judge and assess people, places, and things. As such, this branch of philosophy is arguably one of the most highly debatable.

It wasn't until the late 19th century that aesthetics took on a more scientific formulation when a German philosopher, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) condensed the art form into one focal point that captures the essence of modern aesthetics as we know it "It is our faculty of judgment that enables us to have experience of beauty and grasp those experiences as part of an ordered, natural world with purpose."



The subsect which serves the most relevance within the world of automotive restoration would be that of emotionalism. The central element to that of emotionalism is that "a piece of art is the vivid communication of moods, feelings, and ideas." Of course, there's a strong correlation that can be drawn between this theory and how we experience ourselves in and out of our own set of wheels.

More importantly, everything that the human species exposes themselves to in this world is entirely subjective. As soon as the human race gives birth to a new invention or thing, one of the first things we do is assess its worthiness against something similar.

As the automotive world continues to progress, the more confusing it becomes to our psyche. How does X, Y, or Z model compare to its counterpart? How does its successor differ in design against last year's design? What intuitive driving features have been changed? What has remained the same? What's different?

As a prime example, one might be drawn to a 1968 Aston Martin DBS, while someone else might consider anathema to the same make and model. Admittingly, I've never expressed a profound love for any make and model, but rather the objectivity of a particular vehicle's appearance. Much like that of any other professional restoration, the final product is entirely predicated on the summation of all its parts.

I'm the kind of guy who would rather be taken to an art institute rather than engage in small talk about what components are under one's hood. I'm not a mechanic, nor will I ever be one. Now, that's not to say I would discount it altogether, because after all I'm in the business of automotive restoration, but I wouldn't label myself as a gearhead. To exemplify this point, you'll find a poem written by Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918) discussing the complexity, yet simplistic aspects of nature. I, for one, feel that this serves as a template upon which any other detailer should endeavor.

I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain; Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.

When one views a piece of art, in this case a vehicle, you look at the object with a certain level of discernment such as style, contour, color, age, material, etc. and you study it from a variety of different angles. The one pitfall of any detailing technician is becoming complacent with the way a particular make and model looks under certain conditions including overcast, dusk, dawn and other closely related natural occurrences that happen in nature. It's easy to find yourself stuck in a level of complacency when those conditions mask the unaltered, pure, organic state of that object. The same concept rings true with virtually any other subject matter, but for the sake of automotive restoration, let's stick to vehicles.