The theory of acoustemology encompasses our current and historical experience of sound through the practice of listening, both as an individual and as a collective, and the ways in which this interacts with other senses. The term was coined by Steven Feld to emphasise a relational understanding of the world that acknowledges connectedness as a precondition of being.
Activism is the practice of advocating through direct action. Activism can be interpreted differently and carried out in various degrees, but more commonly it denotes vigorous campaigning, geared towards what is deemed to be a just cause by those practicing it – activists. Activists tend to set themselves apart from institutions and their respective mechanisms of change, such as bureaucratic policies. Instead, the grassroots organising and direction action methods that activists use to advocate in the interest of the public are intended to draw attention, educate, and stimulate change.
Affect denotes what, for example, Brian Massumi has coined "the missing half," referring to the pre-conscious sensations that exist beyond our grasp. The affective turn in critical theory and philosophy seeks to include the ephemeral space of experience into the study of the social which has been traditionally omitted from the (scientific) realm of representation. Thus, It concerns the in-between of subjects, objects, organisms, and more-than-humans, and their capacity to affect and be affected by each other beyond species boundaries.
The concept of affordance generally refers to what an environment - be it natural, social, or digital - offers or provides for the actors navigating this physical or non-physical space. However, it can also concern the ways in which an object can/cannot be interacted with (e.g. a chair, a drone, money, an infrastructure, or an interface).
Generally a physical or digital collection of records, stored and preserved, relating to an institution, place, community or individual. Bodies, minds, memory, discourse or social practices can also be archives. Besides this, it is used in a more conceptual, philosophical manner; it has numerous meanings assigned to it across various disciplines.
Artistic research thinks with, in and through art by combining art and academia. It does not have formal knowledge production, as traditionally associated with scientific research, but rather makes explicit the reflective and (pre-)conceptual properties of art. It thereby invites 'open ended thinking'.
Belonging describes the affinity for a place or a group of people; to belong means being part of somewhere or something. From a distance, however, it can also describe the longing to be part of a place or a situation.
The term biopower was coined by Michel Foucault to denote practices of the nation-state for achieving the control of populations and the subjugation of their subjects' bodies. This can be seen as an implementation of biopolitics, involving the viewing of populations in statistical terms, interested in the process of how people live and die.
A system of economic organisation that involves private ownership of the means of production and wage labour. Since its emergence as an economic system in the sixteenth century, it has transformed and passed through various stages, perhaps most notably (at least for its analysis and theorisation) Industrial Capitalism in the late eighteenth-century. Today, capitalism has achieved global hegemony as a mode of economic organisation but exists in a plurality of forms across different geopolitical spaces.
‘Coloniality of power’ is a concept coined by Aníbal Quijano, and later elaborated by Walter Mignolo and others working in a South American context, to address the existence and effects of colonial legacies in postcolonial societies. It stresses the epistemic entanglement of colonialism and modernity, serving to illuminate their co-constitution and trouble Eurocentric discourses of progress and rationality. See also 'decolonial'.
Coronavirus is the colloquial name given to the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, which stands for "severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2". The outbreak of the virus began in late 2019 before it was spread globally, causing the World Health Organisation to declare it a pandemic in March 2020.
Counterculture refers to a culture that differs in values/norms from mainstream society. The term is often associated with the anti-establishment rhetoric of the 1960s and its harbouring of various subcultures.
Creative writing is a type/mode/style of writing that goes beyond academic or more formal forms of writing. It can include poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, can follow a narrative structure, or be entirely experimental. Its definition is not fixed.
Crisis most commonly refers to a situation where normative or life-sustaining systems are perceived to be under threat. Examples would be the refugee crisis, the 2008 banking crisis or various environmental crises around the world. Historian Reinhart Koselleck is a key thinker in defining crisis as a historical concept. Crisis does not simply describe a matter-of-fact reality, but is often instrumentalised in the name of upholding hegemonic power. In Georgio Agamben's words, the 'State of Exception' triggered by a crisis repeatedly legitimises the extension of state control and policing.
Critical theory has traditionally been associated with a strand of philosophy associated with social and political theories that challenge and/or examine power structures. Drawing on Marxist and Kantian ideas, critical theory was initially established as a school of thought by the Frankfurt School philosophers (Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Erich Fromm, and Max Horkheimer). However, since then critical theory has expanded from a purely Marxist approach to include topics on racism, post- and decoloniality, sexism, and ecocriticism. Critical theory's praxis is not only aimed at examining and challenging general social and political power imbalances, but it is also self-critical in that it addresses epistemological fallacies within its own line of inquiry by questioning the (institutional) conditions that (in)validate certain ways of thinking. Ultimately, critical theory aims for the emancipation from sexist, racist, and other oppressive/exploitative internalised ways of thinking, acting, and relating to one another and the environment.
Critical Transgender Studies is an interdisciplinary approach to cultural analysis that examines how "transgender" comes into play as a category, a process, a social assemblage, a gender identity, and a threat to gender normativity. Through its approach to identity, embodiment, sex, and sexuality, Critical Transgender Studies explores the contingency of gender and sexuality norms across cultures, times, and space in ways that have remained underaddressed by Gender and Queer Theories.
Decoloniality is a political and epistemic position that aims to undo the "coloniality of power," understood as the epistemic foundation of modernity and colonialism. It refers to practices that confront the structures of domination that outlive the formal colonial period. In this sense, the term is different to decolonisation, which tends to refer to the historical period and/or political processes involved as former colonies transitioned to sovereign nation-states.
Ecocide is the crime of deliberately or negligently damaging or destroying the natural environment or harming the health of species. It involves deforestation, pollution, mineral extraction, amongst others.
Ecocriticism is a theory with literary roots originally encompassing the study of literature and the environment from an interdisciplinary point of view. There have been different waves within the movement, from decentering the human being from (meta)narratives to the de/historisation of the environment. Most ecocritical debates also centre around the discursive, philosophical, and symbolic aspects of nature.
Ecosexuality, as first coined by the performance artists Elizabeth M. Stephens and Annie M. Sprinkles in their Ecosex Manifesto, considers the Earth not only as mother but above all as their lover. This form of caring intimacy can take many different forms of expression, from erotic interactions with ferns and trees during pagan rituals to integrating an ecologically sustainable attitude in one's sexuality. Eco-sexuality can therefore be understood not only in terms of preferences, but as a form of joyful activism for a kind, loving, and protective relationship to the planet, rather than a capitalist self-destructive one.
Everyday life is the site of exploration of often invisible, but possibly highly significant, mundane experiences and practices: quotidian objects, routines, rules, and spaces. Its thinkers range across arts, cultural studies, philosophy, sociology, history and cultural geography.
Fragmentation is a quintessential characteristic of what thinkers have heralded as the postmodern condition. According to postmodernists, fragmentation, or the disintegration of unity and fixity, occurs in every sphere (e.g. discursively, subjectively, collectively, in the media, etc). This has lead to the decentralisation of metanarratives (e.g. religion).
The term genocide was defined by Raphael Lemkin to describe the intentional action of destroying a social group, usually linked by a particular ethnic, religious, national, and/or racial background. It can involve the killing of such groups, as well as attempts to suppress their existence, language, or culture.
Intra-disciplinary research consists of speaking, thinking and writing across the methodological, conceptual, and theoretical divides that traditionally define academia. Differing from 'inter-,' the prefix 'intra-' indicates that different disciplines do not pre-exist separately from each other, but always entail already open and entangled processes.
This term has a wide range of uses across the Sciences and the Humanities, indicating movement from one space to another, whether it be the transfer of data or the migratory patterns of plant and animal species. In the contemporary political and cultural climate its strongest connotation is likely to be the physical movement of people from one place to another, often crossing geopolitical and cultural boundaries while navigating increasingly militarised border regimes.
Musicology refers to the academic area of study focused on the composition, creation, and listening to of music. It is a broad subject area that covers both the artistic and theoretical aspects of music.
Narrating is a way of giving form and meaning to a range of unconnected events. Through a chosen narrative, the author or speaker is able to influence the comprehension and interpretation of a tale. One common example for a narrative we all make use of in the everyday, is the narration of our own lifestory: we align loosely related experiences on a linear narrative and thus give them a meaning. Similarly, on the broader level of society, the dominant power dynamics incorporate certain events into its narrative, while omitting and silencing other alternative narratives.
Noise commonly refers to a sound phenomenon, either as an event, which is disruptive, or as a sustained disturbance. In some contexts, such as computation or information theories, noise can also refer to disorder, distortion or interference in a system. Thus, noise, although mundane, is also used as a concept within a variety of disciplines. Michel Serres has notably contributed to establishing “noise” within the Humanities and critical theory, stating that, “noise gives rise to a new system, an order that is more complex than the simple chain. This parasite interrupts at first glance, consolidates when you look again”. In other words, noise is transformative. As soon as its interruption within a system is made, it becomes the new norm to be disrupted once again. Noise cannot be pinned down, it is a matter of process and in this sense, also liminal: perpetually between two fixed points, never quite one thing or the other, but always on the move. The complexity of noise as a generative process can also be thought of in terms of chaos and affect.
From a mere quotidian to the most theatrical act, performance encompasses every movement intentionally performed with our bodies. It often, but not necessarily, includes an audience. We encounter the concept of performance in as various areas as capitalist discourse, social codes, or stagecraft.
Performativity refers to a concept emerging from linguistics, namely from John Austin's theory of speech acts. It was later taken up by Judith Butler to elucidate on the social construction of gender through language and speech.
Popular culture refers to a set of objects, beliefs and practices that are considered to dominate in a society at any given time. It can be defined in opposition to ‘counterculture’ and the ‘official culture’ of the state or governing body.
A concept that revises our current understanding of being human. The posthuman moves away from the dualist thinking of liberal humanism to view itself as becoming, embodied, emergent, (rather than autonomous, rational, and singular) with the ability to take on heterogeneous perspectives and understandings of (being in) the world. The notion was originally introduced by Donna Haraway in her conceptualization of the cyborg, which undoes boundaries between human, animal, and machine, and now has a range of (contesting) definitions and uses across various disciplines.
A protest is an expression of dissent or a practice of objection to a situation or phenomenon at hand. A protest is a demonstration that can be made by an individual or a group, that can be planned or spontaneous, and can be performed with methods both non-violent and violent. Often, the practice of protesting is taken up when conventional methods of objection have been unsuccessful. Thus, protests are often intended to disrupt a given order or status quo.
Psychogeography, a term coined by Guy Debord in 1955, is an approach to the exploration of the urban sphere by merging insights from psychology and critical, mainly Marxist, approaches to geography. Psychogeography centers playfulness and "drifting" as ways to discover the urban sphere and its architecture differently. It has links to the Situationist International, Dadaism and Surrealism.
The Situationist International (SI) is an organization formed by a group of proclaimed European revolutionaries comprised of artists, intellectuals and theorists, active from the 1950s to the 1970s. From this group and their works was derived the term ‘situationist’. In the first issue of their magazine, published in 1958, SI define “situationist” as “relating to the theory or practical activity of constructing situations. One who engages in the construction of situations. They then specify in their lexicon that “situationism” is “a meaningless term improperly derived from the above. There is no such thing as situationism, which would mean a doctrine for interpreting existing conditions. The notion of situationism is obviously devised by antisituationists”. To be situationist is to pay attention to and practice “psychogeography” as “that which manifests the geographical environment’s direct emotional effects”. Thus, the term should not denote a doctrine, as this would defy the contingency and context-derived purpose of it.
Sound Studies in the broadest sense is an interdisciplinary field of inquiry into the concepts of sound and listening, that explores the enmeshment of cultural, technological, scientific and industrial relations between music, noise, speech and silence.
Space, in its most general definition, is an emptiness. In various manners, we are invited to inhabit and modify these spaces. At best, we are able to create spaces ourselves. In their altering nature, spaces are in constant conversation with their surroundings, the people that populate them, and the narratives that form them.
Refers to artistic and communicative mediums that produce information in a primarily, but not exclusively, visual form. The technological developments of the twenty-first century have produced a proliferation of visual media that have in turn produced a proliferation of new types of images. These profound transformations in visual culture have unsettled notions of medium-specificity and blurred boundaries between information, communication and art.
Walking is a practice of everyday life that has been the subject of much theorising and works of art. One of the most well know walking figures in Western culture is the flâneur, most notably portrayed by Charles Baudelaire in “The Painter of Modern Life” and other works. The practice of walking is of course not limited to any singular trope, and the flâneur and his other wandering counterparts have been revisited in a myriad of ways. For Gaston Bachelard, walking is a poetic act that allows for communion with the elements and creative expression. Michel de Certeau in turn writes about walking in urban settings, where space is subject to calculation and planning. For Walter Benjamin, who builds off of Baudelaire’s work, the wandering persona has a special relationship to crowds–while walking, one is neither quite an insider nor an outsider. Walking has both a material and affective energy that make it both a mundane and yet visceral practice to engage with.
A term that draws attention to a type of intertextuality that exists between visual and textual forms, or more generally to the relationship between words and images, the seeable and the sayable. It troubles the neat division of signs into different “types”, along with their allocation as respective objects of study to separate disciplines. Much of W.J.T Mitchell’s work has been dedicated to the topic.
A zine is a kind of magazine that is self-published with low production values - often reproduced by a photocopier. It is a small-circulation publication that can be made through the combining of words and images.