Tag Archives: Discourse

Infrastructure ‘open to facile misinterpretation’…. or local ignore

infrastructure-development [openspaceconsult.com] tweakedby whatifdunedin 1

Academic Paper/Article via Academia.edu
December 24, 2015

Paradoxical Infrastructures: Ruin, Retrofit and Risk
Cymene Howe – Rice University, Anthropology, Faculty Member
Corresponding Author

Co-Authors: Cymene Howe, Jessica Lockrem, Hannah Appel, Edward Hackett, Dominic Boyer, Randal Hall, Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, Albert Pope, Akhil Gupta, Elizabeth Rodwell, Andrea Ballestero, Trevor Durbin, Farès el-Dahdah, Elizabeth Long, and Cyrus Mody

ABSTRACT
In recent years, a dramatic increase in the study of infrastructure has occurred in the social sciences and humanities, following upon foundational work in the physical sciences, architecture, planning, information science, and engineering. This article, authored by a multidisciplinary group of scholars, probes the generative potential of infrastructure at this historical juncture. Accounting for the conceptual and material capacities of infrastructure, the article argues for the importance of paradox in understanding infrastructure. Thematically the article is organized around three key points that speak to the study of infrastructure: ruin, retrofit, and risk. The first paradox of infrastructure, ruin, suggests that even as infrastructure is generative, it degenerates. A second paradox is found in retrofit, an apparent ontological oxymoron that attempts to bridge temporality from the present to the future and yet ultimately reveals that infrastructural solidity, in material and symbolic terms, is more apparent than actual. Finally, a third paradox of infrastructure, risk, demonstrates that while a key purpose of infrastructure is to mitigate risk, it also involves new risks as it comes to fruition. The article concludes with a series of suggestions and provocations to view the study of infrastructure in more contingent and paradoxical forms.

Introduction
Breakdowns and blackouts, pipeline politics, and new demands upon energy and resources have surfaced infrastructure in surprising ways, igniting conversation about social and material arrangements that are often left submerged, invisible, and assumed. In recent years, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in the study of infrastructure in the social sciences and humanities, following upon foundational work in the physical sciences, architecture, planning, information science, and engineering. While the popular imagination might recognize infrastructure as the mundane mechanisms within, beneath, and supporting the maintenance of quotidian life, many scholars have foregrounded the agency, performativity, and dynamism of infrastructure.

Infrastructure is not inert but rather infused with social meanings and reflective of larger priorities and attentions. To further engage these novel lines of inquiry, a group of scholars gathered at Rice University’s Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences for an extended roundtable discussion. We came from a variety of academic institutions and positions in the academy (ranging from senior scholars to PhD candidates), and our group reflected a diverse range of disciplinary backgrounds (American studies, anthropology, architecture, history, science and technology studies, and sociology). Our objective was to break down some of the scaffolding that upholds disciplinary boundaries. To embrace a starkly infrastructural metaphor, we were interested in “bridgework”, not just to move from point A to point B, but to hold us in suspension for a time so that we might inspect the mechanisms that drive our intellectual work and scholarship.

Infrastructure, which epitomizes the conjunction of material forms, expertise, social priorities, cultural expectations, aesthetics, and economic investments, seemed to us to be the ideal rubric through which to enrich our thinking, as well as a social object that necessitates a multidisciplinary approach. A collaborative conversation would help us to disentangle theories, concepts, and methods from their usual paradigms, permitting them to “recombine” in novel ways (Hackett and Parker 2014, 12). Our conversation was animated, in part, by other “turns” in the humanities and social sciences, including new materialisms, posthumanisms, and ontological approaches. Walking through the dynamic scholarship on infrastructure that is being published in the human sciences, we were struck with the definitional capacity of the term itself. Infrastructure is material (roads, pipes, sewers, and grids); it is social (institutions, economic systems, and media forms); and it is philosophical (intellectual trajectories: dreamt up by human ingenuity and nailed down in concrete forms).

Infrastructure has a capaciousness and scope that makes it both an infinitely useful concept and a concept that is open to facile misinterpretation or to being encumbered by overuse.

Our purpose was not to produce yet another definition of infrastructure (although at the end of this essay we do offer a few potential classifications). Instead we gave our attention to questions such as “What is generative about thinking with and through infrastructures at this historical juncture?” And “How can the multiple and diverse understandings of infrastructure across the human sciences mutually inform and enhance one another?” Simply put, we wanted to unravel “why now?” and “where do we go from here?” Our hope was to work toward “explication” (Latour 1993; Sloterdijk 2009), knowing that infrastructure has moved from the background to the foreground, while remaining intent on questioning why that is so. This collective essay gathers the themes and insights that echoed throughour conversation. These issues were resonant points of return because they revealed the relational and ambiguous elements of infrastructure to produce contradictions and unevenly felt consequences in the lives and places they contact. We have codified these apparent paradoxes, broadly, into topical domains of ruins, retrofit, and risk.

To read this article and other academic papers subscribe to Academia.edu (Weekly Digest).

drawing [floodofideas.org.au][floodofideas.org.au]

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Image (top): openspaceconsult.com – infrastructure development [tweaked by whatifdunedin]

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‘Yellow Balloon’ —Blue Oyster invitation to (TOWER) Submitters et al

Shane McGrath (yellow blimp) 15-4-13 IMG_3188alrTo Everyone who enjoyed the sight of artist Shane McGrath’s Gelber LuftBallon flying HIGH over Customhouse Quay on Monday 15 April

AND

To ALL Submitters on the (LUC-2012-212) Betterways Advisory Ltd application to construct a 28-storey hotel and apartment building at 41 Wharf Street

_____

You are warmly invited to the forthcoming exhibition hosted at Blue Oyster Art Project Space | Basement, 24b Moray Place, Dunedin

[public domain] Submitters may find their submissions pinned to the wall.

BO_GELBER_B4_WEB

Gelber LuftBallon (Dunedin Research Project) is a series of new work created by Melbourne-based artist Shane McGrath.
McGrath’s practice has used rockets, planes and zeppelins as metaphors for escapism, exploration, memory and tragedy. For this series McGrath has been investigating the public debates around Dunedin’s proposed wharf hotel development. McGrath sees the issue as one that concerns the city as a whole, which has the potential to impact dramatically on the city’s future.

During the public submissions process there were calls for an on-site, tethered balloon to be used as an indication as to how tall the hotel would be. Using this suggestion as an entry point for his investigation, McGrath launched a balloon near the proposed site on Monday 15 April. In this context the balloon is not only a practical object for measuring height, but also references times of conflict (barrage balloons) which were designed to allay fears of attack and also to indicate that the city was under attack.

Gelber LuftBallon is not a didactic work or a protest, but simply a catalyst to encourage debate and add to the ongoing dialogue. The results and ephemera of the research project and balloon launch will form the core of the exhibition at the Blue Oyster which opens on Tuesday 23 April.

Watch the video at http://blueoyster.org.nz/upcoming/shane-mcgrath/

****

Shane McGrath has a BFA and an MFA from Massey University. In 2011 he was commissioned by City Gallery Wellington to create a permanent sculpture in Wellington’s Glover Park as a part of the The Obstinate Object exhibition. He is represented by Bartley and Company, Wellington.

Blue Oyster Art Project Space
The Blue Oyster Arts Trust (BOAT) was founded in Dunedin in 1999 as the governing body of the Blue Oyster Art Project Space that provides a high quality, dynamic program of experimental and innovative contemporary art practice. BOAT is a non-profit and non-commercial organisation that is made up of practicing artists, curators and other creative professionals. The art project space allows a diverse range of artists to work experimentally, free from commercial restraints and irrespective of the stage of their career. Blue Oyster aims to broaden the interest and understanding of contemporary arts by providing a forum for discussion and debate regarding contemporary art issues.

The Blue Oyster is supported by Creative New Zealand | Toi Aotearoa and Dunedin City Council | Kaunihera-a-rohe o Otepoti

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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10,000

Sometime today while the protest was on this site passed through the 10,000 visitors barrier, yippie. Yeah don’t split yourself laughing, it’s not big really, but it’s an important issue for this city and here’s hoping someone’s worries have been alleviated or hopefully not confirmed. At least there is discourse and dialogue. Cheers all, much appreciated.

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Eckhoff, no not Darwin, Columbus, Galileo, please.

Re: ODT Article Sat 3 Jan

I couldn’t agree more with Cr Eckhoff that discourse is the best way to come to an achievable or desirable goal, but simple dissent for the sake of it is no noble endeavour. It is somewhat strange (although not at all surprising) that Eckhoff likens those opposing the construction of a stadium to famous figures of the past. However, unlike those opposing the stadium, the gentlemen mentioned were proven right in that what they were seeking was actually already there, a verifiable fact or phenomenon (a Continent, The Cosmos and Evolution), it’s just that the conventional wisdom of the day denied the existence of such things (ironically more often than not by the church which Eckhoff places high in societal development). Unlike the supposed Terrorist Treat (about as likely as one of Galileo’s cosmic entities landing on the stadium), the false and incorrect threat that Anthropocentric Global Warming and the resultant rise in mean sea level will flood the area, and other erroneous claims, the three historical figures mentioned were proven correct through endeavour and scientific discipline, of something that was real. No manner of hypothesises testing will rise the level of the sea to that of a threat to the construction of the stadium.

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