Aesthetics & Affect: Engaging Energy Communities

Michael, Mike; Wilkie, Alex and Ovalle, Liliana. 2018. 'Aesthetics & Affect: Engaging Energy Communities'. In: Intimate Entanglements. University of York, United Kingdom 19 - 20 February 2018. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

This exploratory paper discusses a particular role for ‘aesthetics’ in empirically enacting and practically analysing Public Engagement with Science and Technology (PEST). We draw specifically on a particular research project with members of energy communities (communities directly involved in the processes of energy demand reduction). In particular, we designed and implemented an ‘engagement’ event to enable (energy) publics’ potential apprehensions of particular issues, or ‘matters of concern’. To this end, the paper reports on a ‘probe workshop’ in which participants were asked to complete three ‘probe exercises ‘ These exercises were designed as tasks that were in some respects unusual, that is, tangential to the usual ways of thinking about energy demand reduction. The aim was to facilitate a more ‘aesthetic’ reading of such standard elements of energy demand reduction as ‘energy’, ‘community’ and the ‘future’. Part of the point of the workshop was to see whether such probes prompted more critical and creative engagement with the potentiality entailed in energy demand reduction. While there was some evidence of this speculative – what we call ‘semblematic’ – engagement, it was also clear that the participants had recourse to more traditional – that is, ‘anaesthetic’ - ways of thinking about ‘energy’, ‘community’ and the ‘future’. However, we also subjected the completed probes to own aesthetic reading. Accordingly, we strove to derive ‘matters of potentiality’ through which to ‘energy demand reduction’ could be rethought as holding out a range of engagement possibilities.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Related URLs:

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for Invention and Social Process (CISP) [2016-]
Design > Design Societies Research Unit


19 February 2018Completed

Event Location:

University of York, United Kingdom

Date range:

19 - 20 February 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

04 Jul 2022 10:16

Last Modified:

24 May 2023 14:14


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