skip to main content

Professor Kenneth Wilder

Reader - Research
Chelsea College of Arts
Researcher Research
Kenneth  Wilder


Dr Ken Wilder is an artist and writer. He is Programme Director for Interior and Spatial Design at Chelsea College of Arts. Having studied Environmental Design at the Royal College of Art, he has both practiced and taught architecture. Ken now makes site-responsive sculptural installations, often including video projection.

He completed his PhD, entitled Projective Space: Structuring a Beholder’s Imaginative response, at Chelsea in 2009. He has exhibited widely in the UK, and has also exhibited in Ulm, Germany (funded by British Council).

Drawing upon reception aesthetics, Wilder has written extensively for a number of academic journals, including the British Journal of Aesthetics, the Moving Image Review and Art Journal, Estetika: The Central European Journal for Aesthetics, Architecture and Culture, Theatre and Performance Design and Image [&] Narrative. His chapter on the Freee Art Collective is published in Manifesto Now! (London: Intellect, 2013), and there are forthcoming chapters in publications by Bloomsbury and Routledge. He is currently working on a book entitled Beholding In Situ Art.

Wilder's research focuses on the phenomenological experience of art, particularly in terms of how artworks structure an often problematic relation with the beholder. While his own art practice continues to be central to this research, he has also developed novel philosophical positions on the role of visual imagination in the spectatorship of painting, installation and video art. His methodological position draws upon reception aesthetics and its relation to analytic philosophy.

One aspect of his research has been to question where the artwork is relative to the beholder. With relation to painting, Wilder argues that imagination is necessary to overcome the beholder’s extraneousness to the virtual world of the painting. He has used in-situ paintings, such as Masaccio’s Trinity, to claim that in certain works, integrated into their architectural settings, this imaginative engagement is situated.

A more recent aspect of his research attempts to extend this analysis to contemporary works, and in particular to define the phenomenological experience of video art as it shifts from the cinema to the space of the gallery. There has been little systematic analytic philosophical consideration of how the experience differs from that of cinema or sculpture.

His research attempts to construct a comprehensive analytic theory of the reception of ‘situated’ video art, based upon the notion of the configurational encounter – an encounter that acknowledges its conditions of access.


Current research students