News

Video: Transcultural Urban Aesthetics

Asian cities are usually seen as chaotic. However that is because those of us who grew up in Europe and North America are accustomed to linear orders of things, be they buildings or written words. In my new video I talk about the logic behind Asian urban aesthetics.

Video: Urban Aesthetics

Urban aesthetics is a marginal, though emerging field. This is surprising since it addresses a fairly common intuition that cities can be breathtakingly beautiful, and in a different way than paintings are beautiful. In my new video I talk about recent developments in the field and suggest that cities are not only beautiful because of their looks but also because of the dreams they allow us to dream and the stories they afford for our life.

Video: Cities on Mars

Elon Musk has some pretty concrete plans for the Red Planet. However, he mostly discusses technological and financial obstacles. I’m more interested in psychological and political challenges to living on Mars. And I found most insightful considerations from an unlikely source: Plato.

Plato’s Laws is about starting a new colony, the fictional city of Magnesia, on an isolated Cretan island. Many of the psychological and political difficulties that Magnesians would face can be juxtaposed to potential settlers on Mars.

The latest video on my YouTube channel is on possible cities on Mars.

Conference and Video: The City and the Wild

I was extremely fortunate to have been able to take part in the Human-Technology Relations conference last weekend. What was most mind-blowing was the keynote lecture given by Prof. Ashley Shew (Virginia Tech). She talked about human-technology relations from the perspective of a technologically enabled disabled person (Prof. Shew’s lower leg has been amputated and she relies on wheelchairs and prosthetics). She dispels many of the common myths around disabled people such as that they spend all their time wishing they could be cured or enabled to walk again – an assumption Shew calls ableism, or that all disabled people should play along in the narrative of being an inspiration for perseverance and high achievement for the non-disabled.

Shew identifies as a cyborg. She draws attention to the fact that it is precisely the disabled who have immense experience with the interface between the human and the technologicized, since they deal with it in almost every moment of their life. Ironically, their perspective is almost never included in these discussions!

My contribution was on the way the city as a technology mediates to the wild. Both notions of the city (as the locus of the civilised) and the wild are historically shifting and constructed with various ends in mind and therefore require careful reflection. A video of my presentation is available here.

Publication: Urban Kinaesthetics

The special issue of Contemporary Aesthetics, “Urban Aesthetics” was just published! One of my essays, “Urban Kinaesthetics” is a part of it, which is really cool. It’s a paper that discusses in how far can the city be appreciated as a beautiful object by first asking how the city can be treated as an object of perception in the first place. Spoiler alert: sensorimotorics and the enactive concept of perception play the lead role.