Infrastructural Aesthetics

Pratt Upload Panel

Infrastructural Aesthetics Pratt Upload Panel | Events Calendar
Lance Wakeling, Field Visits for Chelsea Manning, 2014, Video, 49 minutes

With Tyler Coburn, Shannon Mattern, Nicole Starosielski, Ian Hatcher, and Lance Wakeling

Clinton Hill / Fort Green

Pratt Institute | 200 Willoughby Ave

II. Infrastructural Aesthetics
11:30 AM–1 PM

Chair: Tyler Coburn

Panelists: Shannon Mattern (Associate Professor Media Studies at the New School), Nicole Starosielski (Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU), Ian Hatcher (poet), and Lance Wakeling (filmmaker)

In the recent past, we’ve seen art projects exploring sophisticated (often covert) systems, from military black sites to the electromagnetic signals that suffuse our everyday life. While their subjects vary, these works speak to a broader concern with contemporary “infrastructure”—a term, geographers Steven Graham and Simon Marvin note, that doesn’t just describe what “runs ‘underneath’ actual structures,” but the “multiple, overlapping and perhaps contradictory infrastructural arrangements” of politics, technology and economy. “Infrastructure” here departs from its conventional definition, becoming a relational field that various agents can potentially influence.

The neologism “Infrastructural Aesthetics” is a prompt to consider the artist’s position within this field and the strategies available to her. How, for example, can art engage with systems that rarely have singular forms, but concatenate physical, immaterial and asignifying processes? Is the efficacy of representation thrown into question, and what forms of artistic practice might better speak to our imbrication in contemporary infrastructure? Finally, can art play a role in fostering literacy about this subject, to greater political effect? Panelists Shannon Mattern, Nicole Starosielski, Ian Hatcher, and Lance Wakeling will address these and other questions, drawing on their work in Media Studies, poetry, and film.