The Cartography of Aesthetics: On Making the Urban Visible

Monday, 16 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Andrea PAVONI, ICSTE, Portugal
From the lighting speed of financial markets to the petrified pace of climate change, from the ubiquity of urbanisation to the instant-sharing of everyday life via social media, we face processes whose scale, speed and impact we are less and less able to envisage, let alone handle. In the meanwhile, novel knowledge and technology provide us with ever-new potentials to widen perception to inhuman scales and temporalities. The late Félix Guattari argued that the crucial political question of our time is that of making visible, sensible, and thus amenable to action, the structures, forces and processes that traverse and shape our reality. Conceiving new measures and drawing new cartographies of our condition, that is: an eminently aesthetic task. The role of art in making the visible, rather than simply reproducing it, as Paul Klee famously put it, is thus forcefully called into question yet again, as is the age-old interrogation on the relation between art and politics, in dire need of a radical update. A challenge that requires art to be disentangled from its most common, instrumentalising misunderstandings: on the one hand, as the more or less unwitting phenomenological tool of the ever-sophisticated experience economy of contemporary cities; on the other, as the more or less redundant tool of political activism. Focusing on the relation between art and visibility in the age of planetary urbanisation, this paper will seek to navigate conceptually, through relevant examples, beyond this impasse.