In an increasingly globalizing world, the aesthetics of Dubai have become potentially available even for impoverished, peripheral cities such as Belgrade. With the explicit rhetoric of finally achieving a “global profile” for the city, the Serbian government has hired an Emirati company to build a “world city” in a centrally located district of Belgrade. The rationale for the development is explicitly aesthetic, and the high-rises planned articulate the globally recognizable aesthetic vocabulary of superlatives and (generic) modernity. The tall buildings suggest economic growth while forming a façade against which Belgraders play the role of extras. This paper builds on Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s notion of the body schema as well as James J. Gibson’s notion of affordances and recent contributions to architectural aesthetics that grew from it, to outline an alternative, embodied ideal of urban aesthetics. The paper presupposes that the common world is to be understood as a task to be achieved. The city, understood in its material form, as urbs, as well as in terms of social relations, as civitas, is the place where the common world can potentially be tangibly experienced. Its architecture narrates, but also affords and prohibits social change, and reversely social and political relations influence the making of the material city. The paper argues that a city’s place in the world is not a matter of gaining access to a supposedly pre-existing reality by displaying the right look, but of engaging actively in the making of the common world.
There will be keynote lectures by Jonathan Wolff (Oxford), Harini Nagendra (Bangalore), Annabel Brett (Cambridge), as well as numerous exciting inputs from researchers and artists like Sanna Lehtinen, Jonas Gillmann, Seraina Dür, Nitin Bathla etc.
Currently exploring entanglements with non-human agencies (particularly pigeons!) together with performance artists Jonas Gillman and Seraina Dür, as well as with the designer and ecologist Flurina Gradin.
We are planning a guided tour of the central train station in Zurich during the Otherwise festival at Gessnerallee in Zurich, as well as during my upcoming workshop “The City and the Wild” (more infos coming up!)
I’m delighted to give an online talk at the Royal Institute of Philosophy (Oxford branch) next Wednesday at 19h CET. The title is “The City in Philosophy and Philosophy in the City”. If you are interested in attending, contact Daniel O’Brien, email@example.com for the zoom link.
What is the broader social and cultural relevance of academic aesthetics? Can it help us make out why a show seems a little flat? Or analyse for instance racial fetishes? What is the aesthetic attitude and how may one take it up? All this and more in an interview with the philosopher Alex King!
We are celebrating the centenary of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus logico-philosophicus (published 1921) and the bicentenary of Fyodor M. Dostoevsky’s birth (born 1821). This video is my tribute to both. I aim to show that there is more that connects these thinkers than accidental numbers. The video is based on Chapter 1 of my book.
I am very excited to have been granted a Junior Fellowship at the interdisciplinary institute, Collegium Helveticum starting September! My new colleagues are a primatologist, a terrorism scholar, an architect, movie makers, a historian of India, a perfume synthesiser, and a composer. The new place of work: the old Semper observatory in Zurich.