Aesthetic Activism: Upcoming Talk at Yale

September 5, 2016 | News

On Oct 13,2016, I presented a variation of my cat essay, “The Strangers Among Us,” at the J. R. Miller Symposium, “Aesthetic Activism” at the Yale School of Architecture. You can see a video recording of the panel I participated in, “The Aesthetics of the Other: Alienation, Estrangement, and Unfamiliarity,” in with Gregory Crewdson, Pamela Rosenkranz, Roger Rothman, and moderator Michael Young here:

A longer version of this same essay is forthcoming from Astrophil Press in 2017.

“I have to admit I got on the plane Thursday when it dawned on me that I had set out to come to a Yale School of Architecture in order to read a meditation about my cat. This seems like a terrible idea, but in the midst of so many ranging discussions of activism, macro and micro scales, abstract reflections on beauty’s arrest or aesthetic breaks, I wanted to propose an example, and a banal example at that. What happens when we think about our most everyday companions, and the ways they disrupt or accommodate our human logistics — which I see as another word for architectures. As we have been discovering over the course of this conference, it is not only the appearance of the building that exists but also the building that recedes from which its appearance emerges, and the host of theoretical networks, politics, and economies that articulate its precise shape and location. I suppose I want to look at how that same operation takes place on another scale, viz a viz my apartment’s accidental resident. Timothy Morton brought up the idea of a public space for all things—this seems like a particularly essential undertaking if we do indeed wish to transform the systemic violence we currently inhabit and slow the tide of the 6th Great Extinction. What might it look like, then, to not only create space for more than human kinds, but to maintain it? To let it adapt? Working with water is one thing, but what about rats? What about mold? What indeed would a coexistant architecture mean? Being attuned to the wierdness of fellow beings seems like an important first step in that question.” — The Strangers Among Us, 2016.