(Non)Spectacular Infrastructure: Enacting Resource Circulation in Stages, Studios and Communities
Dr Jeremy Brice, London School of Economics and Political Science / Dr Joanna Hofer-Robinson, University College Cork / Dr Adam O’Brien, University of Reading
This BA-funded project emerges from a Knowledge Frontiers symposium on ‘natures, cultures, communities’ held in Dublin in early 2020, by the Royal Irish Academy and the British Academy. It sets out to explore the points of intersection between infrastructure, politics and representation - and in particular how infrastructure alternates between mundane invisibility and spectacular foregrounding.
Typically defined as a technical precondition of the exchanges and circulations which compose the taken-for-granted background of everyday life, infrastructures create expectations of the seamless availability of goods, services and mobilities and in so doing they cease to attract notice. They can also be enrolled into repertoires of political spectacle, whether through the construction and public display of cutting edge structures and networks as emblems of state power and modernity or through employment of apocalyptic images of catastrophic infrastructural failure to articulate socio-economic dysfunction. In both cases the potencies of infrastructure are mediated through repertoires of representation, meaning that creative work has the capacity to question and unsettle these registers of visibility, and thus to catalyse critical enquiry into their political work.
(Non)spectacular Infrastructure is designed to have two key components: a reading-group symposium exploring critical texts which engage with which engage with questions of infrastructural (in)visibility, involving the project leaders and invited contributors; a practice-as-research workshop, organised around the staging of extracts from Augustin Daly’s Under the Gaslight (1867), a play animated by the spectacular representation of infrastructure.
Originally planned as part of the same event, these are now stand-alone sessions (due to COVID 19 restrictions) - but the dialogue between them remains vital.