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Philosophy as Public Art

Lecturer: Esther Anatolitis

Originally Taught: Summer School 2004

Like public art, philosophy offers the passer-by an encounter which can give rise to a new approach, a newly productive perspective. Each of the workshops in this series brings philosophers into a productive exchange with an artist, an exchange which produces a design for a work of public art.

The first session will set the scene: introducing participants, discovering shared concerns, and determining the limits of cross-disciplinarity. I will also present some past work, and negotiate an agreed method. Philosophical issues current to the urban-political sphere will be considered (e.g. asylum, citizenship, translation, security, multiculturalism, terrorism, democracy, communication, the other, power). Participants will be challenged kinaesthetically as well as philosophically: how might we provoke further engagement on this issue through public art (e.g. video projection, digitally enhanced space, broadcast, sculpture, installation)?

Why public art? Because it is encountered without having to enter a designated art space, and moreover it is designed to be disruptive as well as engaging. Public art will be introduced in contrast to advertising that urban phenomenon designed to imprint the passing consumer with compelling criteria for action. Advertising dominates the urban visual landscape, impacting daily on our moral, aesthetic and intellectual conscience. Yet while advertising is widely accepted as an urban inevitability, public art is often the target of scathing criticism… and philosophy has little place at all in these contexts. Using the city as an interface, in what way can we as philosophers pose virulent questions which don't remain with the passer-by but are spread through the street, the office, the tram, the home? Thus the workshops will also address the question: What kind of city do we want to live in?

The philosophy as public art series does not merely seek to introduce some critical focus points to an urban landscape littered with advertising images and "Safe City" surveillance cameras. It also seeks to redetermine philosophy as a public art.