Christoph Brunner Activist Sense: The Politics of Aesthetics in Social Movements

In recent years forms of public protest and social movements massively mobilized through and with social media platforms. Social movement theory mostly portraits the so-called twitter-revolution and the movement of the squares from Tahir, to Taksim, and Madrid in light of its „new“ modes of organizing and communicating. At the same time the aesthetic components of the protest are usually treated through mainstream media coverage and the problematic depiction of violence as main narrative of such protest. Less attention is paid, however, to the actual aesthetic compositions of the technologies and platforms and their ties to actual experiences of bodies in alliance on the streets. Under the heading of “technopolitics” the Spanish 15-M-movement developed first steps towards an aesthetic politics as part of their activist media strategies. Following these practices and looking closely at some alternative media strategies during the G20 Summit in Hamburg, I will outline the notion of “activist sense” – where sense takes on a double meaning of the sensuous and processes of sense-making. Activist sense then might provide insights into the processual nature of sensuous activation and sense-making, that is aisthesis and aesthesis as an inherently political concern.

At Leuphana University Christoph Brunner’s research deals with contemporary French Theory. He focuses on theories of affect and perception in relation to current media art and activist practices. A specific interest resides in the work of philosopher William James and his refraiming of experience through which Brunner develops a theory of “relational realism.” Currently Christoph Brunner takes first steps in developing the Archipelago Lab for Transversal Practices and conducts research as co-applicant for the SSHRC Partnership Grant Immediations: Art, Media, Event headed by Erin Manning and Brian Massumi.