Enacting Ecological Aesthetics

About the Research

the research

Social and ecological transformation requires design and architecture fields to develop new, more expansive ways of thinking and acting that better engage questions of ecology. What forms of thinking and acting can work through the particular complexities of environmental crises in the contexts of design and architecture, bridging between rich ecological ideas and the practical challenges of concrete situations? 

This project examines how the work of anthropologist and cybernetician Gregory Bateson (1904-1980) might contribute an alternative frame of action to navigate this challenge. The project brings together scholars who are currently working with different aspects of Bateson’s work in architecture and design in Germany and the United Kingdom, affording a significantly broader engagement with this question. 

As early as the 1960s, Bateson argued that the environmental crisis resulted from a broader crisis of ideas and the forms of organisation that resulted from this, criticising piecemeal approaches to environmental action that address only those ‘problems’ that are identifiable and solvable. Bateson pointed to various aesthetic practices that support fuller ecosystemic engagements and speculated on how to develop a ‘systemic philosophy’ to guide human relationships with the environment.

The programme is structured as a continual exchange between a more theoretical engagement with Bateson’s ideas and their reformulation and enactment through multiple contexts of action (ranging from scholarly societies and online workshops to installation projects).