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  • Art, Agency and Eco-Politics: Rethinking Urban Subjects and Environment(s)

Cook, Duncan, 2014, Thesis, Art, Agency and Eco-Politics: Rethinking Urban Subjects and Environment(s) PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This research aims to examine the extent to which cultural agency can be seen to ‘act’ in an ecopolitical
context and how its operations urge a rethinking of the processes that govern the
production of urban subjects and environment(s). Responding to the fact that in recent decades, art
and architectural cultures have converged around a shared concern for ‘ecological matters’ and that
discourses in visual/spatial culture have become increasingly ‘ecologized’, this research broadens the
points of reference for the term ‘ecology’ beyond that which simply reinforces an essentialist
perspective on ‘nature’.
The thesis re-directs the focus of current theoretical discourse on ‘ecological art’ towards a more
rigorous engagement with its frames of reference and how it uses them to evaluate the role of
cultural production in enacting ways of thinking and acting eco-logically. In doing so it develops an
eco-logical mode of analysis for mapping and probing the attribution of cultural agency, how it
intervenes in the production of the commons and how it discloses the participants and mechanisms
of a nascent political ecology. Setting cultural agency within a more expansive and multivalent field
of action, means that the nexus of agency (and intentionality) is dislocated and translated between
‘things’. Reconfigured in this way, ‘an ecology of agencing’ demonstrates the profound implications
this has for any ‘bodies’ of action, cultural or otherwise.
Locating this exploration within the socio-natural environment(s) found in urban spatialities this
thesis attends to the relatively under-theorised, but highly significant area (in eco-logical terms) of
aesthetic praxis operating at the interstices of art and architecture. Pressing at the boundaries of
the formal and conceptual enterprises of both disciplines, critical spatial practices represent a
distinctive form of eco-praxis being cultivated ‘on the ground’. Through a series of encounters with
its operations this research looks to the ways in which practice and theory, in relation to the
question of ecology, are becoming increasingly co-constituted.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design > W990 Creative Arts and Design not elsewhere classified
School or Centre: School of Humanities
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2014 15:47
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2014 15:47
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1645

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