from Albert Brenchat-Aguilar

You are warmly invited to attend the third event on New (Normal) Materialist Decay with Marina Warner (BBK), Anne Anlin Cheng (Princeton), Tiffany Jaeyeon Shin (artist), Sonja Bäumel (artist) and Mellissa Fisher (artist). Chaired by Albert Brenchat-Aguilar (Birkbeck/Architectural Association) All welcome.

Skin Hungry? 
Aesthetic approximations to the critters of touch

13 January  2021, 5pm (London time)

Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL – virtual event

Look closely but don’t touch. While over-exposed to the fictional and fixed aesthetics of SARS-CoV-2, we are all suffering, in different degrees, of what is being called in the mass media as ‘skin hunger’: a desire for human touch that is being explained as a biological need. Haptic communication has been reported to affect infants’ wellbeing, adolescents’ behaviour, stress, and even immunity, pain and attention. Few months through the coronavirus pandemic have been enough to publish papers assessing the current situation of touch deprived peoples. This panel aims to think through the current touch deprivation in terms of appreciations and affections with the bacteria of the skin. Taking into account the agency of touching as a privilege in the present times (imposed on some and prohibited to others) we wonder: What can we build from current aesthetic-agentic relations with our skin bacteria? Or in other words, what can we take from looking closely at the bacteria of our skin in the current coronavirus pandemic from an artistic lens?

Please find more information and join here:

Looking forward to welcoming you all,

AlbertAlbert Brenchat-Aguilar(BArch, MArch, MA, CHASE funded PhD student at Birkbeck/AA)

Events Curator & Comms Officer at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London

New (Normal) Materialist Decay Series

Decaying matter is an essential component of our built environment. From compost in our gardens, to lichen and fungi in our brick and stone walls and tile roofs, to bacteria on our skin, our environment grows thanks to and along with non-human decay. However, we neglect these non-human agents and, now more than ever, we fear them as they also include viruses and the surfaces where viruses inhabit. We wash our hands with antibacterial soaps, interact with the world through gloves, masks, scrubs, glasses and screens. We now sterilise our built environment more than ever, thus polluting it with toxic antibacterial matter. To ignore decaying matter and the waste of our new material mediations (as well as their destinies and trajectories) also means to neglect the human workforce that physically deals with decay and the organisms that support it.

New (Normal) Materialist Decay will showcase a series of conversations under a new materialist approach to the built environment. For this revised series, we want to question how the new normal challenges previous revolutionary approaches to decaying matter (compost, soil, bodies, food, weeds…) and question if it is still possible to shift thinking about them. Before COVID-19, one could have imagined a poetics of waste co-existing with the repurposing of waste so that it comes to signify as non-waste. But what can we do now?

This series of panel debates and conversations will involve academics, artists, gardeners, botanists, chemists and landscape architects. These conversations and their outcomes will be free and open to everyone. This series is partly funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and supported by UCL Urban Laboratory and the Institute of Advanced Studies at UCL as part of their collaboration on the research theme of Waste.