Aesthetic experience has been relativized and marginalized by recent social and cultural theory. As less attention has been paid to understanding the nature of aesthetic experience than mapping the distributed social correlates of tastes, its transformative potential and capacity to animate actors’ imaginations and actions goes unexplored. In this paper we draw upon a large number of in-depth interviews with performing arts audiences around Australia to investigate the language and discourse used to describe aesthetic experiences. In particular, we begin with theorizations of the subject-object nexus within object-relations theory to consider the transformative potential of aesthetic experience. Using these literatures, and extending them to others within sociology of the arts and materiality, our focus is on the way aesthetic experience can fuse human subjects with aesthetic objects. We examine how viewers take an aesthetic object into themselves and in turn project themselves into the aesthetic object by various visual and imaginative techniques. Our theoretical and empirical analysis bears out the constructive and productive capacity of aesthetic experience.