Air brings together but also sets apart bodies by facilitating a division between inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion, continuum and rupture. Taking inspiration in Tomas Saraceno’s glasshouse installations, this talk looks into the way air (and other elements) are partitioned in ‘glasshouses’ of atmospheric affect. Partitioning comes from material boundaries (walls, pavements, apertures) but also immaterial, legal and political delimitations, such as private property, urban commons, public access areas and so on. Atmospheres (especially urban) tend to be tightly regulated in order to avoid uncontrolled and unpredictable revolts, thus pushing bodies in specific, pre-fabricated directions. Building on my previous work on the lawscape, namely the tautology between law and space, and with the help of Wagner’s leitmotifs, the writings of Sloterdijk, Irigaray, Deleuze, Negarestani, and Serres, as well as posthumanism, gender studies, ecology, new material and vitalist ontologies, and critical legal theory, the talk aims at reconceptualizing current understandings of atmospheres within a context of an embodied, conflictual and fully contextualized spatial justice.
Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, LLB, LLM, PhD, is Professor of Law & Theory at the University of Westminster, founder and Director of The Westminster Law & Theory Lab and affiliated with the Centre for Politics, Management and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School as well as the University Institute of Architecture, Venice. His research interests include space, bodies, radical ontologies, post-humanist studies, critical autopoiesis, literature, psychoanalysis, continental philosophy, gender studies, art theory, and their connection to the law. He is also a practicing artist, working on photography, text, and performance under the name of picpoet. His most recent art publication is called a fjord eating its way into my arm (AND publishers, London). He has also published (in Greek) The Book of Water, a book of fiction on the element of water. His academic books include the monographs Absent Environments (2007), Niklas Luhmann: Law, Justice, Society (2009), Spatial Justice: Body Lawscape Atmosphere (2014). He has edited the volumes Law and Ecology (2011), the Routledge Research Handbook on Law and Theory (2018), and is co-editor of the Environmental Research Method Handbook (2017) and the Routledge Glasshouse series Space, Materiality and the Normative. He is currently completing a monograph on Material Justice (2019).
The lecture is part of the current ICI Lecture Series ERRANS, environ/s. There is hardly a discipline, field, or discourse within the natural and social sciences nor the humanities that hasn’t long been touched and transformed by the notions of milieu, environment, or Umwelt. The recent revival and proliferation of ecological discourses can be understood, at least in part, as a response to the increasingly complete immersion in technologically in-formed environments.
The transdisciplinary impact of these new concepts has not yet been captured, nor is it clear that it can be captured, but while the life sciences play a prominent role in them (having adopted, in the 19th century, concepts from physics and transgressed into the social sciences, for example, as racist discourses and social Darwinism), they don’t operate as the leading science in this transformation. Instead, this process appears to be a multidirectional, non-hierarchizable, and errant movement, itself constituting a complex ecology of knowledge.
ERRANS environ/s contemplates aspects of this frequently divergent, potentially errant, and certainly ongoing transformation of not only the sciences or cultures of knowledge, but also cultural and artistic production at large. It will investigate the ways in which an attention to environments can have the effect of dissolving boundaries or making them permeable, questioning clear-cut distinctions, undermining naive ontologies, decentring the subject, folding nature and culture, and producing complex political ecologies attuned to far-reaching entanglements.
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