The Event of the Public: Convolutions of Aesthetic and Epistemic Practice
Mike Michael (University of Exeter)
Alex Wilkie (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Gay Hawkins (University of Western Sydney )
Kane Race (University of Sydney )
Alex Wilkie (Goldsmiths - 1,3), Mike Michael (University of Sidney - 2)
Thursday 1 September, 16:00-17:45, 18:00-19:45, 19:30-21:15 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

This track aims to explore the role of the aesthetic in epistemic practices with particular reference to the ways in which 'publics' or 'scientific citizens' are enacted.

Long abstract:

While STS has long explored how the epistemic practices of knowledge-making can be linked to a heterogeneous range of other practices (social, ethical, economic, political, care-ful, corporeal, affective, etc.), the place of aesthetic practices has been relatively neglected. The proposed theme aims to examine the role of the aesthetic in the epistemic, with particular reference to the ways in which 'publics' are enacted or eventuated. More concretely we can pose such questions as: what counts as 'aesthetic practice' and how does this relate to other practices (for example, of care, affect, social)? how do the aesthetics of a technoscientific artifact or assemblage (eg a plastic water bottle, smart monitor, or alternative systems of electricity generation) affect the ways in which publics enact environmental concern? how do the aesthetics of more or less typical STS research tools (such as focus groups, 'ethnographic' engagements, data harvesting or speculative design interventions) impact the emergence of particular sorts of 'epistemic publics'; how do the aesthetics of the representational practices found in STS, policy or the media (eg online data visualization or the narrative structures of academic accounting) shape the public and its issues? More broadly, we ask how might we understand aesthetic practice in the context of ostensibly related traditions, for example non-representational or arts-based modes of inquiry. Papers are therefore invited which consider the complex interactions - the convolutions - between aesthetic and epistemic practices specifically in relation to the ways in which publics (or 'scientific citizens') emerge.