Stefan Winter

How Will We Live Together? Artistic Research in the Design of City Spaces

In the artistic avantgarde of post-war Paris, Ivan Chtcheglov introduced the ‘dérive’, drifting through the body of the city, as a procedure of artistic research to take note of the ‘atmospheres’ in the city and their changes and fluctuations. The Lettrists and Situationists uncovered psychogeographic contours, currents, vortexes and pivotal points in the city profile to study the effects of built environments on our ways to live and live together. This analytic side was linked to a projective side on which the motion of artistic research opened new horizons and constantly sketched what could exist in place of what stands. This psychogeographic knowledge served as a basis for projecting built environments that would house a new active and cohesive society—a society where diversity would be seen as a positive agent for constant transformation and everyone would engage in creating ‘situations’, or temporary settings for a shared collective time. 

Today the vision of society as a breathing web of heterogeneous groups, who negotiate and re-negotiate their shares and commons in mutual respect, has become much more complex. Environmental issues, social challenges and economic threats need to be considered in their interdependencies and interactions. New focal points such as intergenerational equity and our coexistence with other species come into view. The guiding question of the current Venice Biennale Architecture—How will we live together?—is thus still linking social practices with the built environment, but addressing both in a complex system, in which the contributions of artistic research significantly multiply. In its various instances, artistic research continues to open new ways of reading and understanding city spaces and to create scenarios for future cityscapes. After briefly recalling the historical background, my talk will present and discuss four case studies for the current impact of artistic research on the design of city spaces.

© Manuela Clemens

Philosopher and author Stephen Winter is Honorary Professor for Artistic Research and Head of Institute for Artistic Research at Film University Babelsberg and Visiting Professor for Artistic Research/Architecture at University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. In his research and teaching at universities and art schools in Basel, Berlin, Braunschweig, Düsseldorf, Helsinki, Perugia and Potsdam, he traverses and connects artistic and scientific knowledge cultures. He has numerous publications on all epochs in the history of knowledge and on present-day questions across the disciplines.