The Cosmological Aesthetics of Tomás Saraceno's Atmospheric Experiments

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This dissertation proposes cosmological aesthetics as a critique of and contribution to geologic, geomorphic and geographical aesthetics. This argument is developed in the context of human geographers’ growing interests in the dark, imperceptible and unknown forces and fields of Earth and the cosmos. Attention to such cosmic phenomena amplifies the porosity of distinctions between humans, nonhumans and matter; therefore we require an aesthetic theory at the limits of sensing. In developing this aesthetics, this dissertation draws conceptual support in particular from the non-anthropocentric philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and from Isabelle Stengers’ “ecologies of practice”. At the same time, the elaboration of cosmological aesthetics emerges from a site-based creative ethnography of Studio Tomás Saraceno in Berlin, and more specifically, from a series of experiments in transdiciplinary collaboration, writing and teaching with Tomás Saraceno. This dissertation interrogates how the surfaces, webs, envelopes and interstices populating and propagating in Saraceno’s artwork affect the transmission and distribution of sensation across spaces and scales: in short, how these forms become technologies of cosmo-aesthetic adventure. By engaging with Saraceno’s art projects, from On Space Time Foam to hybrid webs and the Aerocene, and by participating in the atmospheric experiments of aerosolar sculptures, this dissertation articulates two core propositions of cosmological aesthetics: first, that aesthetic experience can create tangible, sensible relations with contexts that are far removed, or much wider than, the particular conditions in which we experiment. And second: such adventures in aesthetics emerge from practices bound together by the forces of obligation, attachment and crucially, imagination. Employing foremost the device of the web, cosmological aesthetics explores propositions for bodies to be creatively extended in a vast and vibrating cosmos.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Oxford University
  • McCormack, Derek P., Supervisor, External person
Publication statusIn preparation - 15 Jul 2017

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