CISP Online

Blog of the Centre for Invention & Social Process, Goldsmiths

October 14, 2020
by Alex Wilkie

Adventures in Aesthetics

In June and July, CISP hosted an online workshop entitled ‘Adventures in aesthetics: Rethinking aesthetics beyond the bifurcation of nature’ with contributions by: Heather Davis; Matthew Fuller; Nicholas Gaskill; Andrew Goffey; Michael Guggenheim; Maximilian Haas; Michael Halewood; Cecile Malaspina; Mike Michael; Marsha Rosengarten; Martin Savransky; Melanie Sehgal, and; Alex Wilkie.

The workshop programme included four sessions, including an introduction to the workshop proposition followed by three themed plenaries on: Aesthetics, noise and disease; aesthetics and practices of care within and beyond the arts, and; aesthetics and adventures in/of education.

Below is the workshop description.

Why Adventures of Aesthetics?
Since the 18th century and the event of modern science, the nature of aesthetics, aesthetic practices and the habits of thinking about aesthetics have, by and large, mirrored the ordering of science founded on the bifurcation of nature. Whereas science and scientific practice has forcefully mobilized itself around ‘bare nature’ independent of ‘culture’ and the ‘social’, aesthetic thinking has also colluded in this opposition, concerning itself with the experiencing subject, perception and artistic expression.

Recently, however, the question of the aesthetic has begun to proliferate in unexpected areas of inquiry wholly ignoring these modern bifurcations. In times of anthropogenic climate change and mass extinction on the one hand, and increased dependency on ‘technoscientific’ deliverance on the other, Alfred North Whitehead’s (2004 [1920]) diagnosis of the bifurcation of nature seems to receive a new pertinence and urgency. New ways of thinking about and doing aesthetics as a more-than-human realm open up the very real and concrete possibility that aesthetic processes and capacities are not the preserve of privileged human actors – such as artists, architects, designers and their audiences or users – nor do they simply concern the beautiful and the sublime. Although philosophers of science, notably Isabelle Stengers and Bruno Latour, have taken up the challenges posed by the bifurcation of nature and its implications for understanding and thinking with scientific practices and knowledge production, less attention has been payed to its corollary for aesthetic practices and processes.

Meanwhile, in the face of new cosmological possibilities and cosmopolitics (Stengers 2005) engendered by epochal propositions, such as the Anthropocene (Crutzen 2002), Capitalocene (Moore 2015) or Chthulucene (Haraway 2015), there is a demand for new ways of thinking and feeling, new knowledge and aesthetic practices beyond the bifurcation of nature that engendered modern science and its aesthetic mirror image. The proposition of this workshop, then, is to imagine ways of addressing this demand and explore, or gamble, on the prospect that aesthetics might be thought and practiced differently, and, in so doing, acknowledge the historicities of thought that have sought a different image of aesthetics. Thus, we might wager that today aesthetics – rather than ontology or ethics – should be placed at the centre of philosophical as well as social and cultural experimentation and that aesthetics should be recognised as the primary manner of care and concern for the world.

Hence, far from criticizing aesthetics at large or suggesting that, by being irredeemably marked by the bifurcation of nature, the realm of the aesthetic has become superfluous, this workshop seeks to inquire into the importance and scope of a ‘new aesthetic paradigm’ as Felix Guattari (1995) envisioned it: not confined to a special realm of society but rather as transversally cutting across every domain of experience and “placed on the manner of being” (ibid. 109). However adventures in aesthetics tentative and speculative such a task might remain, it derives its importance from the fact that changing not only modern habits of thought but also those of feeling and perceiving today has become an urgent task. We might, then, wager that today – when the limits of the framework of western modernity have become clearly palpable in multiple areas of experience – there is a particular import in placing aesthetics at the centre of experimentation in knowledge practices. Hence, this interdisciplinary workshop, sets out to explore this wager by considering the following propositions:

  1. How might a wider idea of aesthetics (and anaesthetics) manifest today and how might it be appreciated in knowledge practices? What images of thought does it make possible? What does the move from neutrality, objectivity and facts to an aesthetic constructivism make possible?
  2. How to account for the aesthetic (and anaesthetic) nature of current knowledge practices? What roles does the aesthetic play in knowledge practices not conventionally associated with it (e.g. sciences and social sciences)?
  3. If a new aesthetic paradigm designates a production of existence that concerns the capacity of entities to feel, how might we detect new modes of ‘being affected’ in the world and how do we as knowledge practitioners respond?
  4. How does a generalized notion of aesthetics relate to historically prior and/or non-western ways of conceiving of the aesthetic? Can we learn from these to refigure western habits of thought?
  5. What repercussions does such an aesthetic paradigm have on existing aesthetic practices as well as the philosophical discipline called aesthetics?


Crutzen, P. J. 2002. Geology of mankind. Nature, 415(6867), 23.

Guattari, F. 1995. Chaosmosis: an ethico-aesthetic paradigm. Indiana University Press.

Haraway, D. 2015. Anthropocene, capitalocene, plantationocene, chthulucene: Making kin. Environmental humanities, 6(1), 159-165.

Moore, J. W. 2015. Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital. Verso Books.

Stengers, I. 2005. The Cosmopolitical Proposal. In: Latour, B. and Weibel, P. eds. Making things public. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 994-1003.

Whitehead, A. N. 1933 [1967]. Adventures of ideas. New York, NY: The Free Press.

Whitehead, A. N. 2004 [1920]. The concept of nature. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

October 13, 2020
by Alex Wilkie

Thinking with Microbes – a seminar series on infection, disease and finitude

Our first speakers in the series are Salla Sariola, University of Helsinki and Jamie Lorimer, University of Oxford.

Date: November 4th 2020 5-7pm GMT.

Please register through Eventbrite for further details and to secure attendance at the event. The event is online via zoom, you can find the zoom link at the registration page above.

October 1, 2020
by Alex Wilkie

Taste! Experiments for the Senses

@Museum für Naturkunde Berlin 30 Sept-18 Okt

TASTE! EXPERIMENTS FOR THE SENSES. “Try this carrot as if you were a cat!” … and other ways  of composing taste.

What is taste? How does it change? How can we shape our tasting experiences? We often taste without paying much attention to the experience—although tasting is a central part of our encounters with the world. When we eat, we incorporate a part of the world around us into our bodies. When we taste, we feel, structure, and evaluate our relationship with the world. We create meaning with our senses—with our mouths and noses, our throats and stomachs, and also with our eyes, our hands, and our head. How does this work? Why do some things taste good sometimes and not so good on other occasions?As you work through the exhibition, you will explore one element with an effect on taste in each phase. There are six phases altogether. You will experiment, for instance, with the expectations we have as we approach food, the sounds we hear while eating and the utensils we use to eat. You will be able to select and combine various foods. In each phase, you will try out several variations and then reach a decision. In the last phase, you will combine all the previously selected variants. This will allow you to discover how eating can be done and experienced differently in a tasting situation you have composed yourself.
Come by and taste with us!  INFORMATION ON THE EXHIBITION:Where? Experimental Field of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin

When? Wed/ 30.09.2020 / 12:00 bis Sun/ 18.10.2020 / 17:30
Who? The TU Berlin “Schmeck!” project
Also to be found here:

How? Due to the current circumstances of the coronavirus, time window online tickets must be purchased before entering the museum in order to participate in the exhibition. These can be obtained under the following link:
In addition, a time slot can be reserved on Eventbrite. This is not obligatory, but is intended to ensure that people interested in the exhibition do not have to wait when the number of visitors is particularly high:

The experiments involve tasting food which is provided.
The exhibition complies with the current COVID-19 guidelines of the Federal State of Berlin as they pertain to restaurants and museums.
Allergens have been avoided where possible and are declared.
Suitable for vegetarians.
Entry to the exhibition is limited to adults and children aged 12 or over. 
Trying out all six experiments takes approximately 45 minutes.

Concept: Michael Guggenheim and Jan-Peter Voß
Collaboration: Nora Rigamonti
Assistance: Aline Haulsen and Max Söding
Exhibition design and technological support: Luise Wilhelm und Sascha Schneider, Kollegen 2,3 Bureau für Kulturangelegenheiten; Larissa Siemon und Alexander Naumann
Photo: Markus Binner/VG Bild-Kunst
We thank all co-researchers involved in the TU Berlin project “Schmeck!” (“Taste!”)
The exhibition is part of the citizen science project “Schmeck! Practices and aesthetics of eating in the governance of a sustainable transformation of food systems” directed by Jan-Peter Voß and Nina Langen and funded by the Executive Board of TU Berlin.