Thursday, October 11, 2018
The City as a Creative Object: Aesthetics, Urbanism, and Contemporary Art
Department of East Asian Studies & School of Anthropology
University of Arizona
Abstract: Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in China and other places since 2007, this project theorizes the city as a creative object by exploring a series of interconnected concepts: generative aesthetics, object-oriented urbanism, cosmopolis, and art intelligence. In this book-length study, generative aesthetics regards a creative object (like art) as a method of truth-telling. Object-oriented urbanism considers not only sensuous and substantial forms but also real forms of urban objects. Cosmopolis refers to a cosmological, post-anthropocentric, object-oriented creative city. Finally, as a foundational method for confronting the brokenness of things at the ontological level, art intelligence -- a cosmotechnics that vicariously connects humans to the universe behind the human world -- builds a cosmopolis by redefining, reorienting, and reinventing urban-based political discourses of artistic autonomy, practices of everyday life, citizenship, public history, charity, activism, and development.
Bio: Dr. Hai REN
As a scholar deeply committed to interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary questions, Dr. REN has multiple affiliations across multiple units at the University of Arizona and academic institutions in China. At the UA, for example, he is Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, Anthropology, Gender and Women’s Studies, and Social, Cultural & Critical Theory. In China, he is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Sculpture at Sichuan Fine Arts Institution in Chongqing, the top-ranking sculpture program in China.
He has a prolific publication record: he has published five books/anthologies as author and editor; and over 60 scholarly articles written in English and Chinese languages. These publications deal with topics such as media and popular culture, urban regeneration, socially engaged arts, affective politics, critical theory, and political philosophy. He is completing a book-length study of the city as a creative object based on ethnographic field research in Chinese cities and other places such as Detroit, New York, London, and Paris. Meanwhile, he is an active member of several ongoing research and art collectives based in Southwestern China, engaging urban and rural pressing issues such as public space, historical memory, environment (e.g., water), and technology.