School of Culture and Communication - Research Publications

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    Is This How Participation Goes?
    Papastergiadis, N ; Wyatt, D (The Department of Visual Arts, University of California, 2019)
    If the neoliberal regime is a constitutive force in a decentered and globalizing world, then what is the starting point for determining its flows, and what is its impact on art and culture? Conversely, have we not also seen art swell and expand through new kinds of transnational collaborations that are giving aesthetic form to cosmopolitan ideals? Are artists at the vanguard of the resistance against the gaping inequalities threatening to rip apart the social fabric or are they, despite their democratising intentions, an extension of an invidious system? These contradictory forces are played out on many fronts and with divergent inflections. In this brief essay we sketch out the hydraulic tensions between the corporate global culture and mass cultural participation by focusing on recent events in Melbourne. As a second-tier global city, celebrated for its livability and cultural vitality, the development of Melbourne’s cultural scene over the last fifteen years exemplifies the various spatial formations around which aesthetic experience is being organized and redistributed.
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    Capturing ambient participation: Indian Independence Day at Federation Square
    Wyatt, D ; Papastergiadis, N ; Weber, M ; McQuire, S ; WEI, S (Routledge, 2020)
    This chapter uses the concept of ambience as an analytical tool to explore the qualities of cultural participation in the outdoor public spaces of contemporary cultural precincts, and as a metaphor that speaks to a wider process of cultural transformation in communicative cities. Media-rich cultural precincts are now a common feature of urban developments and inform the major policy shifts in creativity-led urban regeneration. The ambient experiences afforded by outdoor cultural precincts resonate with significant shifts in artistic practice. Ambient participation is particularly difficult to account for in the instrumental frameworks and methods routinely used by cultural funders and stakeholders to evaluate the impact of cultural infrastructure. Frameworks designed to measure visitation numbers at a museum, the satisfaction surveys of audiences, or the segmentation and brand recognition indicators tested by market research frame cultural participation as an aggregation of individual experiences. Media-saturated environments make qualitative changes to the experience of being-together-in-public.
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    Liquid Polis and Ambient Aesthetics of Communicative Cities: An Afterword
    Papastergiadis, N ; Andrews, J ; La Ware, M (Peter Lang, 2022)
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    Going Out: Rights to the City and the Cosmos
    Papastergiadis, N ; Andrews, J ; La Ware, M (Peter Lang, 2022)
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    Ambient culture: Making sense of everyday participation in open, public space
    Papastergiadis, N ; Hannon, S ; McQuire, S ; Wyatt, D ; Carter, P ; de Dios, A ; Kong, L (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2020-09-25)
    Unlike art and performance within interior spaces like the museum or gallery, the experience of culture in an urban and networked public space presents new challenges for cultural interpretation and evaluation. In this chapter, we draw on research conducted at Melbourne’s Federation Square to discuss how the concept of ambience helps make sense of both the production and experience of public culture. The first section introduces the changing settings for culture: from an almost exclusively interior presentation to an increasingly mediated, networked and outdoor experience. The second section situates this exteriorization of culture in terms of a shifting urban environment that is increasingly interwoven with media networks. The third section describes different forms of engagement and problematizes traditional expectations of cultural experience. Finally, we conclude with a reflection on these findings and draw out implications for the theorization, cultural programming and evaluation of cultural participation in public space.
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    ‘Meeting differently’: Indian Independence Day celebrations in the digital diaspora
    Wyatt, D ; Papastergiadis, N (Elsevier, 2023-09-01)
    Highly programmed, digitally-enabled outdoor public spaces for social gathering and cultural performance are now common features of urban environments. These spaces are popular because of their low barriers to entry, and because they facilitate casual, serendipitous encounters between a range of different publics. Entering one of these spaces is to inhabit an ‘ambient’ participatory mode: multi-centred, mobile and multi-sensory, conforming neither to the formal viewing experience of ‘the audience’, nor to the casual, distracted disposition of ‘the street’. Their success in terms of widening public engagement and stimulating urban vitality has informed major policy shifts in creativity-led urban regeneration and creative place-making. However, a deeper understanding of the kind of cultural participation they shape eludes prevailing critical and evaluative frameworks. This article is based around a large-scale event celebrating India's 70th year of Independence held at Melbourne's Federation Square. We use ambience as a conceptual tool to expand common notions of cultural participation, revealing the complex socio-spatial relationships that coalesce through the event. Capturing ‘ambient participation’ reveals, in Paul Carter's (2005) terms, the potential of these networked spaces to ‘model a different kind of political community, to open up a place of meeting differently’ that exceeds the celebratory rhetoric around global mass culture, normative frameworks of multiculturalism, and romantic notions of community.
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    De la ciudad como Cosmopolis a los espacios cosmopolitas
    Papastergiadis, N (Universidad de los Andes, 2021-01-01)
    The early boom in biennales coincided with the post-1989 malaise of internationalism and a tentative burst in cosmopolitan thinking. It was also caught in a massive rebranding of cities as attractors of global capital and hubs for creative economies. Between the hype and massive investment in arts infrastructure there has been a spectacular growth in contemporary art as an event. Both contemporary art and the biennale phenomenon have had an uneasy relationship to nations and regions. The topography of cities and the will to globality have been seen as more congruent with the postnational or transnational context of contemporary art. Hence, artists have aligned themselves with specific cities, or else they have sought to situate themselves in the coupling of cities and aspired to be part of a new cosmopolitan networking of urban centres. Since 1989 the status of the city has assumed a new significance that includes an often unspoken relationship between symbolic and financial capital. Let us take this moment to look again at the relationship between art and cities, and reflect on the need to imagine new spaces for cosmopolitanism.
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    Worlding Art
    Papastergiadis, N ; Di Leo, J ; Moraru, C (Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2021)
    Whether we are looking up, across, or down, we are, as Blaise Pascal, the seventeenth-century philosopher and scientist, noted, “suspended between two infinities. The further out we look, the bigger the horizon. The closer in we reflect, the more complex the detail. In both directions, there is the experience of the boundless. The horizon is awesome; it holds both the dread of the void and the delight in other possibilities. Inside the translucence of a tiny seashell twirls another kind of wonder.
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    Cosmos and nomos: cosmopolitanism in art and political philosophy
    Papastergiadis, N (Taylor & Francis, 2021-01-01)
    In this article I address the tensions between normative political philosophy and aesthetic cosmopolitanism. Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida have been two of the most influential philosophers to engage with the political and ethical questions of cosmopolitanism. Habermas has drawn on the foundations established by Immanuel Kant and set out to define an institutional framework that could secure the rights of people in an age of mobility. Derrida’s emphasis is more heavily slanted to ethical relations rather than geo-political structures. He reversed Kant’s starting point, by placing the exposure to the other and the necessity of hospitality as the basis of freedom and truth. While both Habermas and Derrida have developed their political philosophy by working in close touch with Kant, the transcendental aspects of his thinking is now totally absent in the contemporary debates. As a general rule political philosophy has averted its gaze from the cosmos, and more generally it has to be noted that it has bracketed the founding philosophical concepts of aesthetics and physis. The focus is mostly on the terrain of anthropos, polis and the nomos. In short, the discussion begins and ends within the normative parameters of cosmopolitanism. By contrast, artists from the pioneering modernists like Malevich to contemporary figures such as Saraceno have never abandoned the quest for cosmogony. The ethical orientation of aesthetic cosmopolitanism appears to co-exist with a wider claim of belonging to the cosmos. In this article I contrast the orientation and scope of thinking between normative and aesthetic cosmopolitanism in order to reframe the spheres of connections in contemporary thought.
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    In the Time of Refuge: A Collection of Writings and Reflections on Art, Disaster and Communities
    Papastergiadis, N ; Pledger, D ; Papastergiadis, N ; Pledger, D (RUPC, 2021)
    This timely book offers an expanded understanding of the importance of the arts and communication in dealing with disasters. It is based on Refuge a pioneering program of artist-led events held at Arts House (Melbourne) from 2016-2021 concerned with the intersection of climate change, emergency services and community. Even before the COVID pandemic the financial cost of extreme weather events alone was projected to exceed $39 AUD billion per year in 2050 (Deloitte 2017; Glasser 2019). Imagining a disaster is recognized as a key part in developing responses and mitigating consequences. But building such an imaginary is challenging: communities need to be able to “imagine the unimaginable” in order to prepare for disasters (Fraser et al 2019). Experts in emergency services also recognize that in complex multicultural societies conventional communication strategies are ridden with distortion effects. In the Time of Refuge addresses the imminent urban challenges arising from climate change by focusing on the events and actors involved in Refuge but also by ruminating on the wider changes in the political landscape and the different philosophical ways for approaching the question of time.