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Brown Bag: Airport Artefacts: How Minute things make complex infrastructures 'tick'

This paper is co-authored with Claus Lassen and was presented at the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, 6-10 April 2020. It address how multi-scalar mobility assemblages such as airports are dependent on detailed protocols of ‘small artifacts’ and seemingly inconspicuous things. The phenomenon of ‘aeromobilities’ span the globe, is being problematized by increasingly critical comments on its unsustainable status, and looks at face value as a ‘big thing’. Drawing on a mix of new materialism, the Mobilities turn, STS, assemblage theory, and infrastructural thinking, we illustrate that ‘big infrastructures’ like airports in many ways are nothing more than the protocolled synchronization of ‘small artifacts’. Simmel (in Wolf 1950) argued that ‘society’ could not be understood by looking at the big ‘vital organs’ (hearts, brains, limbs etc.), but rather needed reflection of the ‘myriads of unnamed tissues’. In a similar vein, we throw light on the performative role of our ‘inferior brothers’ (Latour 1996) and how their distributed agencies makes airports ‘tick’. In other words the ‘dance of agency’ (Pickering 2010) enabled by gates, scanners, conveyer belts, signage, screens etc. This is part of a research project on the ‘future of the airport city’ (AirCiF), but also as a more general example of how materializing urban infrastructures connects across scales. We suggest to ‘follow the artifact’ – however minute it is. From a theoretical and conceptual framework as described above, we turn to empirical case material from Copenhagen airport.

Time

13.05.2020 kl. 12.00 - 13.00

Description

Airport Artefacts: How Minute things make complex infrastructures ‘tick’

Speaker:
Professor, Ole B. Jensen, Dept. of Architecture, Design and Media Technology obje@create.aau.dk

Abstract:
This paper is co-authored with Claus Lassen and was presented at the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, 6-10 April 2020. It address how multi-scalar mobility assemblages such as airports are dependent on detailed protocols of ‘small artifacts’ and seemingly inconspicuous things. The phenomenon of ‘aeromobilities’ span the globe, is being problematized by increasingly critical comments on its unsustainable status, and looks at face value as a ‘big thing’. Drawing on a mix of new materialism, the Mobilities turn, STS, assemblage theory, and infrastructural thinking, we illustrate that ‘big infrastructures’ like airports in many ways are nothing more than the protocolled synchronization of ‘small artifacts’. Simmel (in Wolf 1950) argued that ‘society’ could not be understood by looking at the big ‘vital organs’ (hearts, brains, limbs etc.), but rather needed reflection of the ‘myriads of unnamed tissues’. In a similar vein, we throw light on the performative role of our ‘inferior brothers’ (Latour 1996) and how their distributed agencies makes airports ‘tick’. In other words the ‘dance of agency’ (Pickering 2010) enabled by gates, scanners, conveyer belts, signage, screens etc. This is part of a research project on the ‘future of the airport city’ (AirCiF), but also as a more general example of how materializing urban infrastructures connects across scales. We suggest to ‘follow the artifact’ – however minute it is. From a theoretical and conceptual framework as described above, we turn to empirical case material from Copenhagen airport.

Place and time:
Rendsburggade 14, room 5.346, May 13, 12:00-13:00

The seminars are open to everyone with interest in Mobilities and Urban studies.
Pre-registration is not needed. Please bring your own lunch.

Looking forward to see you at the C-MUS Brown Bag Seminars!

Host

C-MUS

Address

AAU, Rendsburggade 14, room 5.346, 9000 Aalborg

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