In view of the apparent, contemporary indetermination of the aesthetic domains, we should raise the essential question of knowing what still distinguishes the «aesthetic experience» from pure, existential experience. We can straightaway formulate the hypothesis of the adjective «aesthetic» being a form of recognition of something that, if we did not have it as medium of verbalization, could be lost of sight. The aesthetic emerges very early in human experience. However, its socialized conscience only arrives much later. Between those two moments in time, the immense, bigger part of art history elapses - it will be a history of experiences that deeply affect us but for which names were never, by definition, enough. Therefore, the aesthetic starts by being that which will gradually exceed our qualifications of experience.
«Aesthetic» is a term that, in a complex synthesis, brings together an effort of intelligibility of the sensorial experience and a discursive exercise that, having its own rules, is independent from the sensorial domain and developed through an imaginary reconstruction of it. In so being, the aesthetic raises today the problem of our significant relationship with the sensorial experience. As Jacques Rancière wrote, «aesthetic is the word that describes the singular knot, difficult to think and formed two centuries ago, between the sublimities of art and the noise of a water pump, between the muffled timbre of strings and the promise of a new mankind”]. Another author, Christine Buci-Glucksmann will speak of the aesthetic as manifestation of a crisis of the substantive regime of the arts, as «melancholy of art”.
Both views underline, in their own way, that the aesthetic experience is, first and foremost, an experience of the uncertain transition which trespasses any territorial division that we wish to establish between art and non-art. In the end, the aesthetic experience is the very experience of inadequacy, even when we try to describe the internal adequacy of its elements as aesthetic. Alain Badiou designated as «inaesthetic» a relationship between thought and art which, starting from the notion that art is, in itself, producer of truths, refuses to take it as object of an operation to determine the true.
After having ascended to a self-sufficient position, symbolized by the proliferation of museological institutions and academies, art is again creating hybrid spaces that redefine the very aesthetic experience. To some extent, the last criterion we will have to delimit the field of the aesthetic lies in that fabrication of spaces where relations are reinvented. That is, in fact, the safest criterion that appears to us when we try to determine the characteristics of parietal art in the Palaeolithic: the search for the cave can be interpreted here as the first manifestation of this delimitation of an «aesthetic» territory, sunken in itself. However, this is not a place of contemplation. Here, visibility is closely related to the operations of invisibility. Ultimately, the experience of the visible is not opposed to the experience of the invisible. The material and chthonic space enables an experience whose hybridity is, still today, not entirely understood.
In many manifestations of parietal art, we find hands that are inscribed thereon by a process which is different from the one used in the other images] surrounding them. These hands appear in «negative» when a liquid pigment is expelled from the mouth to the hand. And there remain absent hands, produced by a gentle blow, the primary function of language. Hands that eloquently witness the relation absence/presence, part of all aesthetic experience, even if well before the whole conception of the aesthetic.