CFP: Whose Participation? Spaces of Interaction
Call for papers:
Whose Participation? Spaces of Interaction in Contemporary Art and Architecture
December 16/17, 2011
Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, Switzerland
Organized by the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture
(gta), ETH Zurich
Call for Papers
In the wake of the revolutionary unrest of the late 1960s, the idea of
participatory art and architecture has lost its utopian connotations to
become a complex debate about the active role of the spectator—and
dweller—in space. Models critical of technocratic social planning have
seen in interactive art and architecture the latest mode of
authoritarian control (Foucault, Bourdieu); others, taking their cue
from reuse and reorientation of spaces and artifacts, have seen in
cooperative or ‘relational’ aesthetics the only viable politics in an
era of global capitalism (de Certeau, Bourriaud). The nerve of the
debate lies in the equation of sociality and space. The first camp
sees social life as strongly determined or produced by space, while the
second sees spaces as malleable, adaptable, fundamentally produced by
social actors. It is this causal nexus between space and social life
that, above all, we wish to draw attention to and put into question.
Concretely, the question might be addressed by reconsidering the
traditional relations posited between producer, object, and addressee.
Is power exerted in only one direction or could we describe these
relationships as complex networks of interaction? Is space formed once
and for all, or is it the changeable product of changeable patterns of
use? Is the aesthetic always equivalent to the political, or might an
aesthetically authoritarian space be conducive to social emancipation?
How does the mediatization of urban space challenge concepts of
participation and audience? We seek to question one-sided models, which
presume perfectly passive or perfectly autonomous participants. This
should, in turn, lead to more plausible accounts of the relationship
between space, object and democracy.
We welcome contributions that address the following concerns:
Can participatory models create a stage for “social interaction”, in
which behavior and reactions are carefully anticipated rather than
Can theatre or a scenographic model of space explain sociality as the
interaction of actors?
Does the artistic object or architectural space prescribe deictic
procedures of its reception?
How is agency performed in the relationship between producer, object,
Does the rhetoric of participation serve to disguise the artist or
architect as authority?
Do participatory models in art, architecture and urbanism exclude
certain groups or individuals?
We seek 30-minute presentations from art and architectural history,
urban planning, scenography, sociology, and related disciplines.
Possible contributions should deal with case studies from art or
architecture that address the relationship between object and
viewer/user. Our conference will focus on the period since the 1960s;
however, theoretical and historical contributions are welcome if they
add critically to contemporary debate.
Please send a 250-word abstract and short cv to Martino Stierli and
Mechtild Widrich (email@example.com and
firstname.lastname@example.org) by August 1, 2011. Confirmations
will be sent out by August 15, 2011. The conference takes place on
December 16 and 17, 2011, at the Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich. The
conference is organized by the Institute for the History and Theory of
Architecture (gta), ETH Zurich. Depending on funding, grants for travel
and accommodation will be made available. A selection of the
contributions will be published.
Reference : CFP: Whose Participation? Spaces of Interaction in Contemporary Art and
Architecture. In: H-ArtHist, May 22, 2011.