aesthetics and the new mobilities paradigm – Sheller and Urry

Is it possible to move away from a ‘sedentarist’ aesthetics (based on fixed artworks, such as on walls in galleries, or projected, displayed, staged in theaters  cinemas, musea)  to a mobility (liquid? nomadic? fluid? )  aesthetics, which reflects situated space, place and in networks? An aesthetics beyond boundaries and disciplines with meanings and narratives assembled and reassembled? The exchange of material and immaterial cultures.

In this paper, there are some suggestions that link to the above

(p. 7) the new mobilities paradigm posits that activities occur while on the move, that being on the move can involve sets of `occasioned’ activities (Lyons and Urry, 2005).

and thus moving applies to both networked and physical moves:

(p. 8) Not only does a mobilities perspective lead us to discard our usual notions of spatiality and scale, but it also undermines existing linear assumptions about temporality and timing, which often assume that actors are able to do only one thing at a time, and that events follow each other in a linear order [see Callon et al (2004) on how the apparently absent can yet in effect be present].

(p. 8) The new mobility paradigm argues against this ontology of distinct `places’ and `people’. Rather, there is a complex relationality of places and persons connected through performances. (…) Places are indeed dynamic  - `places of movement’ (…)   Places are about relationships, about the placing of peoples, materials, images, and the systems of difference that they perform

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6 Responses to “aesthetics and the new mobilities paradigm – Sheller and Urry”

  1. Phil Devine March 18, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    Nice post Gina – I can’t help feeling it’s more important than ever now to have “a ‘sedentarist’ aesthetic (based on fixed artworks, such as on walls in galleries, or projected, displayed, staged in theaters cinemas, musea)”.

    But I do think I see where you’re going, and maybe at some point in human history we will connect metaphorical thought? Until that point surly analogue interpretation (as above) is our only option (to whatever degree). Then if we do reach (found) body of information, won’t we become nostalgic for a sedentarist aesthetic? I know, at times, I find myself ‘Bunkering’ down in a gallery :)

    I got a lot out of this paper:

    Natasa Lackovic (2010). Creating and reading images: towards a communication framework for
    Higher Education. – International journal of media, technology and lifelong
    learning Vol. 6 – Issue 1 – 2010.

    And, I know I’ve referenced it lot – but Berger ‘Shape of a Pocket’ cuts right through this very topic (in my opinion).

  2. Giraf87 March 18, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    thanks Phil, greatly appreciated, one of the reason I did this module is to get into the dissertation ‘mode’ and your comments are really helpful.

    I will check out these references. John Berger was my main focus back in my UG dissertation so it would be apt to pick up the thread.

    I agree about the sedentarist view (this definition might just stick!): seeing an artwork on the wall can be truly unique. But we must accept that in an educational and leisure context we are are immensely influenced by the digital. The vast repositories of artworks are viewed for many reasons. I am particularly interested in their portability, mobility, transferring between platforms (PC,laptop, pad, phone….) there is a miniaturisation going on. Maybe straight to our posthuman eyeballs… Now how does this affect our experience?

  3. cmeckenstock March 19, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    This will be an interesting research. Travelling or mobile exhibitions are challenging to design, and they always have the sense of temporariness about them. There is also the category of art installations which uses the physical space as part of the effect. While static exhibition (based on locality or gallery) present the question of accessibility or inaccessibility. Web exhibition, although purportedly, more mobile, thus more accessible, does not have the same feel as seeing it ‘real’, unless perhaps it is still restricted by the tools or platforms used to exhibit these online.

    Morever, the word exhibition is also in question as with the ideas we have been looking at, design critically etc and framing a cultural process or thought, there is also the element of non-passivity that we look for. So we really have to look at the definition of miniturisation and what that means. And who the audience will be and if the segment of the audience will be different when it is digital (or not?).

  4. Jen Ross March 20, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    hi Gina – I found a couple of things that might be useful:


  5. Albert Mayr July 5, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    Hi Gira (or is it Gina?) and all, Thanks for posting all this. I am getting into this new mobilities paradigm only now, but as a composer/artist have been involved for many years in exploring possibilities with, for instance, moving performers in open spaces and the like. My point of reference has been, and still is Time Geography. What leaves me a bit puzzled in the ‘new mobilities’ is the separation of the movements from the stationary moments. I prefer looking at what in Time Geography are called ‘trajectories’ that include both movements and stationary times at different ‘stations’. More than the question of moving art works (and I mean moving in physical space, the movements in virtual space require another discussion) I am concerned with the fact that a) environmental aesthetics deals primarily with static configurations and has so far not developed a terminology for dynamic configurations (with possible parameters being, for instance, densities, rate of change etc.) and b) – a corollary of a) – the whole complex of trajectoiries is, so far, not the object of aesthetic consideration and planning. While, next to the predominant efficiency-oriented studies of mobility now experiential aspects are beginning to be considered, there is nothing comparable to the vast repertoire of aesthetic thoughts and practices available for static configurations. And, as I know from experience, the mere idea of an aesthetic approach to space-time issues is very hard, if not impossible, to convey to the “professionales” in this area.

    • Giraf87 July 9, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

      hi Albert

      thanks for your comment. This blog was actually part of a course module that was completed last year and I don’t often check it.But as it happens I am very much looking into mobility as it is part of my dissertation I am currently writing up.

      What you are suggestion is actually one of the criticism of Peter Merriman in ‘Rethinking Mobile Methods’, 2013 as he writes

      What I want to argue, though, is that a conceptualisation of mobilities research and mobile methods as social science research is in danger of limiting academic work to interventions in the social, economic and political realms, whereas a broader understanding of mobilities underpinned by the arts and humanities (as well as social sciences) might highlight the diverse ways in which critical research and practice might unfold, ranging from creative artistic interventions and walks, to the production of performances and plays.

      Thanks for explaining your reservations and reminding me of Merriman too, as I had planned to incorporate this into my critique. I enjoy the mobilties readings on paradigm and methods, but it can be quite disparate too…

      With regards to trajectories, you may be interested in the writing on rhizome by Deleuze and Guattari, I have a Pinterest board on this

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