2014/5‎ > ‎

16 April 2015

The next session in our monthly colloquia series will be in the AGWR (Graham Wallas Room), 5th floor Old Building at the LSE, booked from 16-18:00 (though the session starts at 16:30).

As usual, we have two speakers:

Curating atmospheres in a pop up street food market in London.

Paz Concha, LSE Sociology

The creation of atmospheres in places of consumption and leisure activities in everyday life is a relevant element for the work of creative industries. This paper gives an insight into my doctoral research “The configuration of the Street Food Scene in London” and explores the creation of atmospheres in public events and how these atmospheres are being performed. In this presentation I will argue about the curation of vibes, a process that describes the generation of a particular sensory experience configured by material and immaterial elements, and that constitutes a distinctive practice among street food markets’ producers. I will use the preliminary findings of my ethnography to narrate the case of a pop up night market in Lewisham, South East London, a formerly abandoned semi-cover market with units selling gourmet preparations, micro-diners, bars and DJ’s, a destination and scenario where young people and families were enjoying their summer evenings. This account will point out how the production of atmospheres as an experience is a significant element for the identity formation of a subcultural scene.

Tuning the City – Investigating Urban Design Practices in the Aesthetic Economy

Mona Sloane, LSE Sociology

This presentation will present material from an extensive ethnographic study in a London-based urban design studio and explore how urban atmospheres are ‘made’ through urban design practices.

Taking as a point of departure philosophical concerns of aesthetics and Gernot Böhme’s extensive concept of spatial atmospheres, it will argue that professional design practices negate the inherent illusiveness of atmospheres by configuring them into a ‘thing’ by way of ‘aestheticising’ space through particular material arrangements and manipulations.

Professionally designing cityscapes, then, is a particular kind of labour, concerned with materialising and commercialising atmospheric concepts. This observation is helpful for re-visiting the concept of the ‘aesthetic economy’ and understanding what kinds of values are generated when atmospheres are ‘made’, and how this particular ‘aesthetic marketplace’ is configured through the generation and legitimation of different kinds of knowledges, professional practices and social relations. Ultimately, the framework of the aesthetic economy allows linking people and space through materiality and perception and interprets aesthetics not as a by-product, but a crucial aspect of economic calculations.

The ethnographic approach in conjunction with the concept of atmospheres and the aesthetic economy open up a window for understanding the different categories, distinctions and theories the designers use, how they are performed and why. But it also uncovers how certain sets of cultural capital on the designer’s part frame understandings of localities and projects, how tacit knowledges and professional practices link up the built environment and economic calculations with issues of taste and social class.

Building on these observations, the presentation will close with some thoughts and questions on how these kinds of materialisation processes intervene in social fabric of existing cityscapes and urban atmospheres in a more profound and strategic way than current research suggests.