"I am now working on [a] great piece of nonsense, if it all goes according to plan"
El Lisitzky, 1924
ecologies of care, meaning and imagination
This has been my main line of research over the past decade. I have been curious to understand the kinds of practices, technologies and infrastructures that are required to produce the categories through which we build, describe, and organize the worlds that we dream and inhabit, as well as the ceaseless labor of maintenance and repair required to prevent their collapse. Most of this research has taken place through a (somewhat athwart) look at art, exploring some of the actors, places and practices that have usually remained on the margins, like conservators, bugs, storage, engine rooms, data servers, or HVAC systems.
> Still Life. Ecologies of the Modern Imagination at the Art Museum, University of Chicago Press, 2020. Buy it here
> (with Wharton, G.) "The work of art in the age of digital fragility". In Public Culture. 32 (1): 215-245. Download it here
"On the discrepancy between objects and things. An ecological approach". In Journal of Material Culture 21(1):59-86. Download
> "Preserving the Unpreservable: Docile and Unruly Objects at MoMA" Theory and Society Download
> (with Silva, E.) "Materials in the field: object-trajectories and object-positions in the field of contemporary art". In Cultural Sociology.Vol 7(2), pp. 161-178 Download
> “The material production of the Spiral Jetty: a study of culture in the making”. In Cultural Sociology. Vol. 6 (2). Download
fragility: politics otherwise
This project is a sequel of sorts of my book Still Life., where I began to delve into the notion of fragility. In this project, which I am hoping to turn into short book, I am exploring the kinds of politics and ethics that emerge when fragility is not thought of as a condition to be overcome, but as a condition to live in and with.
Building from the above, I have also been interested in exploring how fiction can be deployed as a method to think and imagine otherwise. As part of this interest, I have been involved in the creation of different experimental devices that seek to mobilize fiction as a method to produce thought, conversation, and imagination.
THE CABINET OF POLITICAL FICTIONS:
This is an experimental project developed together with the architect Uriel Fogué and the philosopher Luis Arenas to use fictional scenarios to test, extend and subvert existing conceptual vocabularies.
Some of the fictions we have used so far include:
> the alien invasion of the earth and the proposal to draft a constitution of cohabitation in which for the first time humans are not assumed to the dominant species;
>the creation of a super-machine (€-Hal) that runs the Eurozone economy autonomously and thus make it possible to fully detach markets from political decisions
>the discovery of immortality and the need to rethink modern institutions which, as it happens, are premised on death
>how to regain control over a fully automated smart city where algorithms have gone rogue starting to kill terminally ill patients to improve costs
Here's a link with a description (in Spanish) of some of the activities we have done. We are working in updating it. (Mind you: we have been working on updating it for a few years now)
This is a space that we have collaboratively created in the Communication Department at UCSD to enable forms of knowledge-production outside traditional academic formats through the development of experimental methodologies. For more info check the CommPlayground's website.
the politics of design
I have a long-standing fascination by the (often unfulfilled) promises of objects like the Narkomfin building, which was designed by Moisei Ginzburg in 1930 as a revolutionary tool to break the bourgeois order by instilling communist ideals into the bodies and psyche of its residents. Today, it lies semi-abandoned in Moscow. I have been intrigued to understand the infatuation with design as a political tool; specifically with how design is constantly re-imagined and mobilized as tool to generate different forms of subjectivity, practices, and imaginaries of order.
(with Fogué, Uriel) "Unfolding the political capacities of design" in Yaneva, A. & Zaera Polo A. (eds. ) What is Cosmopolitcal Design?, Design, Nature and the Built Environment. Ashgate:143-160 Download
(with Fogué, U.) “Technifying the public and publicizing infrastructures: imagining a new urban political ecology through General Vara del Rey Square”. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.Vol.37 (3), pp. 1035-1052. Download
(with Córdoba Azcárate, Matilde, Baptista, Idalina) "Enclosures within encolures and hurricane reconstruction in Cancun" City & Society, 26(1): 96-119. Download
(PROJECTS ON THE SKETCHBOARD)
ecologies as method
In this project I am interesting in exploring what it means to use ecologies as a method for thinking and investigation. More specifically, I want to explore what thinking ecologically can bring to the table that is different (or better) to thinking in terms of, say, structures, systems, or networks.
technologies of description
This is a yet-to-be-defined larger area of research that I hope to define over the next few years. Broadly, I am interested in studying how some technologies acquire the capacity to produce descriptions about what something is, and the work that is required to maintain those descriptions.