Aesthetics and Affect: Engaging Energy Communities

Mike Michael*, Alex Wilkie, Liliana Ovalle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Engaging publics in participatory events has become a central means to introducing lay people's voices into processes of technoscientific innovation and governance. However, little attention has been paid to the role of aesthetics, especially in terms of opening up potential ways of critically and creatively engaging with technoscientific matters of concern. The terms semblamatic and matters of potentially are proposed as addressing this dimension of aesthetics. Drawing on practice-based design research, a probe workshop with members of energy communities was implemented. Three probe exercises served to open up potential re-articulations of such core themes as energy, communities and futures. Our goals were to examine the whether such probes enabled semblamatic responses and the emergence of matters of potentiality. Findings were mixed. The continued retention of standard meanings of these core themes suggested that such events can be anaesthetic, blunting access to the semblamatic aspects of engagement. Conversely, there was some opening up in which the core themes were creatively re-articulated. The present perspective, with its three novel terms - semblamatic, matters of potentiality, and anaesthetic - might prove useful in alerting scholars to the complex role of aesthetics in the methodological and analytic practices entailed in engagement with publics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-463
Number of pages25
JournalScience as Culture
Issue number4
Early online date5 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes

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