CURRENT + ONGOING RESEARCH

 

DEEP AESTHETICS

Transdisciplinarity complements disciplinary approaches. It occasions the emergence of new data and new interactions from out of the encounter between disciplines. It offers us a new vision of nature and reality. Transdisciplinarity does not strive for mastery of several disciplines but aims to open all disciplines to that which they share and to that which lies beyond them.

 

Basarab Nicolescu (1994)

The Charter of Transdisciplinarity

Deep aesthetics is essentially transdisciplinary in nature. Rooted in the primary ground of the aesthetic as sensuous engagement, woven of strands from philosophy - especially phenomenology - depth psychology, philosophical anthropology, and diverse cultural knowledges, deep aesthetics foregrounds the backgrounded relational and interconnected aspects of life and living beings, re-situating humankind within a complex world of enmeshed and interdependent Being and mutual becoming. It focuses on depth of engagement and a radical intersubjectivity.  Most importantly, deep aesthetic engagement offers revelatory, and potentially transformative, experience. My interest in developing deep aesthetics is rooted in the question of how to transform human-world and interspecies relations, abandoning a dominant reductive ontology, and instead adopting, or adapting to, awareness of a shared ontology, or Being. If, as has long been asserted, the damaging behaviours and technologies of industrialisation arise from a reductive ontology, might transforming that ontology result in changes to these practices? More, can it be that recognising a shared ontology of Being might be more a matter of recalling and re-membering what has been dis-membered, or split apart than of finding anything new? In the words of psychologist James Hillman speaking of the aesthetic and the Anima Mundi, or soul of the world, "I {often] wonder less how to shift the paradigm than I wonder how we ever got so far off base.”

To read or download conference talks, papers, and publications developing and working with these ideas, please visit: Academia

"represents an unbounded investigation of places, lands, waters, species, cultures, artefacts, epistemologies, and ontologies” (Pearson and Shanks, 2001). Inspired several years ago by the interdisciplinary work of archaeologist Michael Shanks at Stanford University, I've been working with "Deep Mapping" for a decade. This work is an interactive project blending the arts and sciences; an interactive public ethnography investigating how environmental values might be transformed through aesthetic engagement.

A Deep Map nurtures what I call "place relations"; an awareness of the palimpsest and voices of place, and a consciousness of belonging - all surprisingly readily cut adrift in the increasing loss of depth, and of meaning inherent in what sociologist Zygmunt Bauman termed "liquid modernity".

The compass rose, or wind rose, is a metaphor for an exploratory voyage seeking routes for humankind to navigate the stormy seas and hot winds of a rapidly changing biosphere to arrive at a state of flourishing, rather than an impossibly static state of "sustainability".

At the root of this ongoing research (begun in 2003) is a premise philosophers have been reiterating for decades: that the eco-crisis is a product of a reductive ontology informing  perceptions of self, world, and other, and from which arise the artefacts - from language, to technology, to the built environment and our institutions - of the dominant global culture. These artefacts, in which we are immersed, continuously affirm that ontology. For centuries this approach to Being and culture provided an encompassing sense of security, of superiority and progress as its advocates moved through the world. That security has proved emphemeral, and our surety subject to the seismic forces of change in a dynamic world. We require  resilience, and flexibility; we require a course change, but how, locked in as we are to our structures of perception, might we even begin to chart an alternative course? How might we perceive alternatives, how shift an ontology?

A COMPASS ROSE FOR THE ANTHROPOCENE

culture(s) at the heart of flourishing future(s)

 

A DEEP MAP

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