Both feet in murky waters: Fieldnotes from the Floating University in Berlin
– Maxime Le Calvé and Olivier Gaudin

The Floating University is a summer school organised by the “Raumlabor” collective of scenic architects in Berlin. The proposal is to connect a neighbourhood, the city’s infrastructure and a hybrid ecosystem through the exploration of a specific place. They experiment with new formats of collective research, pedagogy “on site” and political activism. In 2019, the summer school temporary facilities consisted of six light structures built over a body of water – a rainwater reservoir that has become a swamp over time.
What critical scope may an architectural activist serve by developing hybrid practices? By proposing an outdoor school of bodily sensations and specific perceptive situations, the gesture of the architect or designer gives, indeed, a palpable presence to events that are beyond comprehension, such as climate change. Destabilizing established balances and ordinary routines of bypassing the living environment around us encourages the “students” to work on their own gaze and responses. The difficulty of translating and discussing an atmosphere like that of the Floating University opens up the hope of a broader shift in the practices of academic research on our environments, habitats, ecosystems; a shift that would not be reduced to the agreed, opacifying discourses on “nature” or “landscape”. These reflections lead us to consider the artistic, economic and social context of this performative event, as well as the current development of ecological and environmental humanities. In order to critically cross-examine the political significance of such an experiment, we must take the attempts of the artists seriously, without exaggerating or minimizing the reach of small-scale interventions such as the education of the gaze, movement and exercises of attention and care.



Image 1. Opening of a workshop at the Floating University – Water in the Body. Source: Maxime Le Calvé.
“Raumlabor’s on-site artwork is based on a specific perceived environment and its relation to a feeling body. It relies on the notions of interaction, living environment, experience and ecosystem.”

The Floating University is a summer school organised by Raumlabor, a collective of scenic architects in Berlin. The proposal is to connect a neighbourhood, the city’s infrastructure and a hybrid ecosystem through the collective exploration of a specific place. They experiment with new formats of collective research, pedagogy on site and political activism. In 2019, the summer school temporary facilities consisted of six light structures built over a body of water – a rainwater reservoir that has become a swamp over time. The reservoir is still a part of Berlin’s active infrastructure: it collects rainwater from the nearby Tempelhofer Feld, the former airport. As the collective puts it on their website: “the heavenly, contaminated concrete pool of muddy water with its rich variety of plants, birds, amphibians and insects is a magic display of the Anthropocene.” A member of the collective discovered this hidden place on Google maps, and “climbed the fence” seven years ago. Little by little, the project was set up with the city’s permission – providing the initiative with a legal framework. In 2019, the event took place for the second year running, with the quite nebulous yet promising title: “Climate Care. A curriculum for Urban Practice”. The Floating University takes its strength from the atmosphere of this interstitial place: it claims to become a transformative agent of its users’ attitudes. Raumlabor’s scenographers and architects, as well as their “guest curators”, are professionals in the staging and dramaturgy of space. Who do they address, if not their peers? What kind of public goes to this summer school, which institution is collecting the entrance fee of 10 euros? In this paper, we will try to maintain a double point of view of an in-situ description, from the point of view of Maxime’s ethnographic experience during his half-day participation, and of a critical reflection on the stakes of such an event, in the troubled, even confused, political context that we experience about ecological and urban issues.

This description of specific practices can be informed by a pragmatic approach to sensory experience situations1,2,3,4,5. The emphasis on “feeling” allows the experience to be sustained in the form of a situated experiment, through a series of more or less controlled tests. This dispositive inspires a reflexivity about experiences, attention and listening to what is happening and what is going through us – atmospheres in particular. Focusing on the case of Berlin, we have recently proposed this type of description in the exploratory form of a first-person “phenomenography”, which combines an ethnographic description through text and drawing with a series of theoretical and historical considerations6. Raumlabor’s on-site artwork is based on a specific perceived environment and its relation to a feeling body. It relies on the notions of interaction, living environment, experience and ecosystem. Thus, a tentative pedagogy through the active monitoring, or shared social control, of atmospheres, seeks to create ambiences of experimentation and transmission.

The ambition of artists to contribute to the public debate through participatory actions is not new7. However, the trend has become an unavoidable format, perfectly mastered by this collective of artists who manage to differentiate themselves competitively (for a comprehensive analysis, see Bishop)8. This type of events attracts an informed public, sensitive to the cause but also to the precise aesthetic that accompanies these activities as an established genre — an atmosphere specific to the fuzzy, fashionable figure of the Anthropocene and its various mise-en-scène. This cultural event, both self-organized and institutionally authorized, can be conceived as mere entertainment. In addition to aesthetic satisfaction and intellectual stimulation, it may provide the pleasure of self-consciousness and a good conscience — even a feeling of moral superiority over others, along with the vague idea of belonging to a counterculture. To leave it at that, however, would be simplistic and unfair – but how can all these dimensions be integrated into an analysis that does not allow itself to be trapped by the aesthetic skills of Raumlabor’s craftsmen? How can we identify the contribution of this event to the “regeneration” of a capital that has been undergoing record re-urbanisation for the past ten to fifteen years, and whose cultural life has become an argument for real estate, tourist, and commercial investors?

Image 2. Overview of the reservoir and of the buildings of the Floating University from the platform at the entrance. Source: Maxime Le Calvé.
“A dark pond, partly taken over by soft green reeds and surrounded by high trees. The abandonment is so pronounced that a nature reserve comes to mind.”

A strange and welcoming place
A cobbled alley leads to the site, a block away from Südstern Square. The alley turns into a dirt track — we are still within Berlin’s Ring, yet in an area of parks, gardens, cemeteries and sports grounds. This green belt has long been preserved by the successive town planning schemes that the city has undergone since the beginning of the last century. I (Maxime) walk along the fence of a vast graveyard. I park my bike in front of a sign welcoming me to a small allotment [Kolonie] nearby — one of the many places for gardening in the city, the allotment gardens are made up of small individual plots of land, collectively administrated, that were often integrated into Berlin’s urban planning (the Schrebergarten, named after Dr. Schreber from Leipzig, had set an example as early as the 19th century). This neighbourhood disappears when one crosses the barrier marking the entrance to the floating university. The basin is indeed down below, about ten meters – it is almost empty during the increasingly arid summers. To provide access to the facility, a scaffolding tower was built. Its roof is connected to a large canister, and rainwater is collected to feed the plant containers installed in the structure: lying somewhere between DIY and permaculture, green thumb and resourcefulness, or more precisely self-organization, another attitude well anchored in the history of Berlin and particularly in the last thirty years. But isn’t it now part of a certain more or less offbeat folklore, as luxury condominiums have multiplied south of Kreuzberg, as rent prices have exploded in the neighbouring Bergmannkiez, and as dozens of smooth, angular prefabricated shelters form the city’s largest refugee camp directly on the tarmac of Tempelhof, a few hundred metres away?

A balcony looks onto the second landing, with the program indicated on a frieze. Various workshops given by artists, lectures, public readings of a diverse selection of alternative environmental philosophies (I spot a new classic of French ethnology, Bruce Albert on the Yanomamis). There is a clear view of the reservoir. A dark pond, partly taken over by soft green reeds and surrounded by high trees. The abandonment is so pronounced that a nature reserve comes to mind. Spread on the water surface, ephemeral structures have been built by the collective Raumlabor; they are made of pine wood and white tarp, are connected by footbridges. It has rained just a moment ago; the air is heavy and humid. The water in the basin has “turned” with the heat, giving the air a slight smell of decomposition. This smell evokes for me the coming environmental collapse, as if the floating university was built on the ruins of industrial capitalism. We are far from Kevin Costner’s Waterworld, and closer to the swamp, Anna Tsing’s mushrooms, or the hallucinogenic bayou from Beasts of the Southern Wild. Beyond the trees on the edge one recognizes the radar dome of the former Tempelhof airport – a space base landscape, which has become difficult to situate in time. We live among the remnants of two centuries of unbridled anticipation and ambition. Two centuries of exponential consumption of fossil fuel sources, of brutal extractivism, of expansionism freed from all reasonable limits. The monopolization of the earth’s resources by the desire for power seems only to end with the drying up of these resources, and the irretrievable ruin of what was built from them.

I reach the bottom of the stairs, on a small platform with benches made of recycled plastic crates, overhung by a building about ten meters high. Two volunteers are chatting at the small “registration office” with the students for the workshops. There are not many visitors in the foyer, indeed, several workshops are in progress. The wooden furniture is partly integrated into the pontoons and light structures of the buildings, built for the occasion. Some people read or chat. I go around the premises looking for a colleague. This derive leads me to the toilet. A few pink plastic water cans allow manual flushing, explained in a playful way. No dry toilets: we are on a floating university, remember! I enter the next footbridge, which extends far over the surface of the water. Many footprints are visible in the black mud: the water is shallow, and above all, the concrete bottom is not far away. In a small changing room, rubber boots are available for the participants. I then notice several small groups on the other side in the reeds, all in boots. The next building has a white tarp roof with a light Buckminster Fuller-like geometrical structure, which makes it a rather convincing “iceberg”. Inside, a group is in conciliation – a workshop is running there.

I pass in front of the bar – I take the opportunity to buy a rhubarb lemonade – and continue along the platform, attracted by other buildings. First, a platform with a roof and a padded floor, inviting one to a yoga session on the water. Here too a group sits in a circle, in the middle of a discussion. Then a sort of deserted box with stools and a screen for projections and presentations. Further on, by the bank, another activity is going on. The participants are busy transforming materials found on the spot to compose ephemeral works, by cooking, weaving, filtering.

Image 3. Magic yellow boots. Source: Maxime Le Calvé.
“Likewise, the ‘hands-on’ activities around compost or permaculture suggest that material and sensitive contact can open up a symbiotic understanding between humans and other living entities.”

Returning to my footsteps, I meet the designer Benoît Verjat — a colleague from Lyons who told me about the Floating University. He tells me about the workshop he is currently attending. It is a variant of “nordic larp”, a Scandinavian role-playing movement. The organizers invited them to give life to a series of objects through storytelling, the invention of magic rituals and role play. Benoît has invented the character of “Drop”, a tragic figure of a hominid who has become allergic to water and nostalgically tries to remember it. Benoît tells me about his last few days at the Floating University. According to him, there is a general interest around the ways of making oneself “sensitive” – a recurring theme in the scene of urban, more or less ecological, art activism. What niggles him is that it is becoming difficult to participate further: the notion of “making oneself sensitive” is becoming a kind of catch-all. Is it just a lure? He notes that the subject has become a crucial issue in his exchanges with the artist Sabine Zahn, also a lecturer at the Floating University, in the context of their practice of urban choreography.

How can one educate their gaze, train their perceptions, and those of others? What exactly do we become sensitive to, how do we make it the basis of a satisfying exchange, able to respond to ever more pressing environmental and social issues? An inquiry, whether conceptual, scientific or artistic, requires meticulous collective work in order to specify things, he tells me with an air of understanding – since his training at SPEAP, Benoît has been frequenting Bruno Latour’s research groups. Together with his colleague Isabelle Stengers, for several decades they have been arguing in favor of a “common sense” integrating a broadened epistemology of science9. Such epistemology would aim at serving collective political actions targeted at reforming public policies at a wide scale, while remaining fully aware of the numerous stakes of the formation and spreading of knowledge. Opening up through artistic practices to alternative forms of experiencing the world is often proposed as an effective means of thinking beyond “Anthropos” and the modern “bifurcation” between nature and culture. Many doubts can be raised in this regard. The fact is that these questions, despite the relative conceptual vagueness surrounding them, are funded by such established institutions as Sciences-Po Paris, but also by a number of universities and museums across the world that devote research, teaching and richly endowed exhibitions to them. While the intellectual relevance and the effective social and political scope of these “cultural” programmes may be questioned, they are nonetheless symptomatic of an ongoing shift, albeit slow and with few effects commensurate with the issues at stake, but which now seems irreversible: the gradual orientation of leading institutions, particularly the European ones, towards decisions worthy of the name in the field of political ecology. The stakes are far from being limited to academic discussion.

The philosopher Didier Debaise, a collaborator of Stengers and also a reader of Whitehead and the American pragmatists, proposes to use sensorial “affordances” as “bait for the possible”10. It is a matter of multiplying those affordances by giving them the presence they need to have a chance to exist at a broader scale. In a similar way, the Floating University’s workshops about the search for materials available on site aim to transform those places and their specific sensorial qualities into shared objects and situations. Likewise, the “hands-on” activities around compost or permaculture suggest that material and sensitive contact can open up a symbiotic understanding between humans and other living entities. The following description deals with a similar approach: the encounter of moving human bodies with swampy waters. Artists and designers attempt to overcome the challenges posed by this experiential approach. However, philosophies of “embodiment” are still too often instrumentalized and used as a cover-up, as the dancer, choreographer and movement theorist Maxine Sheets-Johnstone puts it:

    [t]he term ‘embodiment’ and its derivatives are in fact no more than lexical band-aids covering over a still suppurating three hundred and more year-old wound. In using the term, scholars are actually perpetuating a divide that has not healed and will never heal so long as they ignore the realities of our basic animation.11

The wound is therefore not yet closed, and it is important to give it time and space to heal by experiencing situations collectively, rather than covering it with a hubbub of conceptual discourse. Our discussion is interrupted by Nama. The young woman invites us to take part in the second part of a workshop-performance devoted to the theme of water. Let’s see if I’ll bite the “bait of the possible”! We sit next to the shelf of rubber boots. I put on great yellow boots, still warm, exactly my size. I join the small group by the platform. The main language spoken is English. Cathrin, a co-curator artist of the floating university, invites me to take part in a ritual foot-washing as part of the protocol. She herself gives me this little shower, by hand, clear water taken from a bowl, poured into a plastic crate, refreshing. It’s an opportunity to make my feet sensitive. “Where have your feet been today?” my initiator asks, with a prepared formula that resonates poetically. “You don’t realize your feet, yet they’re always there and do their job without you thinking about it,” Cathrin points out in her American accent. Why this footbath? A source not specifically named maintains that this washing makes the feet more permeable to “energies” – those of the water we are about to enter. Black, muddy, almost viscous, smelly water that goes up to the ankle. It would be almost worrying if it were not contained in a solid, flat concrete basin which gives nonetheless to the feet the sensation of a regular and steady floor.

Image 4. Nama’s Workshop and the footbath. Source: Maxime Le Calvé.
“Where have your feet been today?”

A participatory sensory performance
A pleasant breeze blows over the basin. We all set foot in the water, and walk together, a small group of a dozen or so. We are well in the center of the water. Nama is a dancer, and it is a kind of dance workshop as much as an in-situ performance that is proposed to us.

This one starts with a circle. The participants hold hands. A small introduction starts, the words are improvised but the main concept is very easy to understand. The human body is made up of 65% to 75% water (the number differs depending on the sources and criteria used) and the planet itself “contains” a large proportion of water. “How much, do you know?” I throw in the answer that has become routine in discussions about the Anthropocene – the now famous “critical zone” popularized by Bruno Latour: the Earth “contains” very little water, we live on a tiny film capable of supporting life and which is currently under threat12. Nama is taken aback, I’m held back by Cathrin, that’s not what we’re talking about. The planet “contains” 75% water, as we all learned in primary school, with a picture to back it up, a formidable blue mass that nothing seemed to threaten at the time. Water is life, and we agree on this point once the misunderstanding has been cleared up. But what quality of water are we talking about? How is this quality established and controlled? With what guarantees? According to what unequal conditions of access, use and exploitation according to countries, regions, cities, populations? These questions will not be asked today. Instead, we are going to allow these fluids to communicate, that of the body with that of the basin, through movement. Nama presents, Cathrin tenderly assists her – we understand that Cathrin is the artist mastering the codes of the institution, and that Nama has been invited to intervene. She insists: it is also a question of conducting an investigation during the session. Let’s be “scientists”, she says, but scientists “of pleasure”. It’s about emancipation and returning to the body, perhaps, so be careful: pleasure.

We close our eyes, the first movements we make all together. Then Nama forms pairs, each one is with their neighbour. Arm in arm, one closes their eyes and the other guides them. This accompanied walk has become a classic exercise of in-situ performance that I discovered through the work of Myriam Lefkowitz13. Except that this one takes place with the feet in muddy water. A little anxiety-provoking at first glance, but with your boots on, you feel protected. As the water is relatively homogeneous and the concrete surface of the reservoir is smooth and accident-free, there are few “highlights” on the walk. You get used to the idea of the water, you feel the walk adapting to the resistance of the semi-liquid environment. My partner is also French. Although talking is not allowed, we chat anyway. When it’s my turn, it occurs to me that global warming might well make us have our feet in the water in Paris, and that this feeling might become commonplace. It’s not for now – but it will surely come one day.

Image 5. Blinded promenade in murky waters. Source: Maxime Le Calvé.
“You get used to the idea of the water, you feel the walk adapting to the resistance of the semi-liquid environment.”

Back to the center. Change of partner. It is now a matter of guiding the other in a sort of half-dance, arm in arm. Water is supposed to lead, Nama tells us, by joining gesture to word. She also tells us about the second chakra, which is located in the hips and connected with the ”energy” of water, as well as with emotions and creativity. I take Paula’s arm, and with my new Brazilian partner, we explore these movements with a few deep breaths. The experience is enjoyable, even if the movements are limited. Right, left, front, back, and a twist to complicate the exercise. We laugh. The summer wind adds a slight frivolity to this playful moment. This place, left behind and already strange, has become an interstitial singularity in the urban experience as soon as we equip it in such a way as to make the inhabitants walk through it and feel it. Anna Tsing writes about life in the ruins of capitalism: the mushroom she follows in the meandering involvement with various forms of life, symbiotic, symbolic and commercial, only grows in an environment similar to this one in certain aspects14. The disaffection of spaces transformed by human activities shapes ecological pockets that have their own dynamics, and which we easily associate with “natural” spaces. The “regeneration” of urbanized spaces will pass –and this is already happening in some places, think of the city of Detroit, the abandoned residential areas of the Midwest or California, the rows of unoccupied buildings in southern Spain –through the establishment and expansion of places that can accommodate living environments with their uncertainty, their own measure, their movements.

This stormwater retention basin, which is still part of the infrastructure but which contributes significantly to local biological diversity, is exemplary in several respects. It reflects both the highly political spatial organization of the big city and the administrative imperatives of large-scale management of a living environment with its specific climate and rainfall. It is part of a unique ensemble, that of the former Tempelhof airport. The reservoir receives the excess water produced by the waterproofing of part of the aerodrome’s surface area of almost 400 hectares. Built in the 1920s, Tempelhof was completely redesigned in the 1930s under the Nazi regime by the architect Ernst Sagebiel. It was supposed to integrate the pharaonic urban project of a new capital city called Germania, designed by Albert Speer in close collaboration with Hitler. It was the largest airport in the world at the time. History has made it the symbol of the American airlift that saved West Berlin from Stalin’s blockade in 1948.

Again, Nama calls us back to the centre. Another partner change. She’s asking for a partner to demonstrate, I’m willing to volunteer. This time, it’s about bonding with both forearms, and “feeling” what the other is doing, and “being the water.” I remember Bruce Lee’s famous words: “Be water, my friend.” We close our eyes again. This time I’m with Ivi. Despite commendable efforts, she finds it harder to be “water” than my previous partner. Our movements are a little stiff at the beginning, but we manage it all the same, our gestures are slowly growing broader. I find a kind of fluidity already experienced in more conventional contemporary dance workshops –it’s a bit like contact-improvisation dance, but with our feet in the water –or rather, in the mud. A sort of “tango” as Cécile would later say, but semi-amphibious. Nama said we could blink our eyes to reassure ourselves if we were afraid. The effort is intense, and the smell of rotten water goes to my head. I see a few white flashes –or maybe they are just blinks –and then in a deliberate blink I see a photographic image imprinted on my retina –reflections of the white sky in the black water. The smell of decomposition is also a smell of life. Micro-organisms feed on the fragments of dead plant matter, insect and animal remains, which accumulate and aggregate. We disturb a whole world by dragging our boots in this “cesspool”. Yet we also take part in the mixture of life forms for which the significant organization is at the molecular level. The oscillating lines drawn by the fish and the vertical strokes of the reeds participate in this swamp world, capturing the elements of the air. The swallowed insects are transformed into the fluttering of fins, the flickering of scales and rich silt. Sunlight and carbon from cars are captured by leaves and injected into root systems shared with fungi. The fungus scrape and dissolve with their acids the concrete layer imposed by man, insert themselves into the faults created by the frost, and put them at the disposal of plants –stones and lime extracted from the depths of the earth and then cooked in blast furnaces, scraped sands at the bottom of living or fossilized seas. The technical hybridization (artisanal, then industrial) of life forms reminds us of them, with all the buried violence of its brewing. The sandy marshland, natural landscape and living environment that reigned throughout the region before the soil was drained by Dutch engineers to build a capital worthy of the new Prussian militaristic state, is resurfacing. Assuming we train ourselves to perceive it, to listen to the phenomenon and to come into contact with its spongy properties, this multifaceted outcrop could take on a critical dimension. As the scale of the long duration becomes palpable, does the thick concrete layer become a discrete geological incident? In any case, this set of elements creates an atmosphere in the centre of the “critical zone” to which one can become receptive. These are the conditions desired by the experience offered by this workshop.

I’ve had my fill, but Nama has yet another idea –she says she makes it all up as she goes along, the improvised format is part of the experience. This time in groups of three or four, again with eyes closed, then open, and finally mixed in the middle. Contact improvisation in rubber boots. Phew, it’s the end. A last circle is formed, last moment of sharing, then we are thanked. It is also the end of a shooting session. The photographers, who had followed from afar, are getting closer. We are aware of being the subjects of a performance watched now and later on, on computer screens or mobile devices taken out of the pocket between two subways –our efforts will remain as images associated with the Floating University installation. Exhausted after 90 minutes of symbiotic-artistic performance, we return to dry land.

Image 6. Final tango under the scrutiny of the cameras. Source: Maxime Le Calvé.
“A performative and playful atmospheric approach contributes to highlighting the web of living things of which we are a part.”

How could such minuscule actions contribute to the regeneration of cities? A performative and playful atmospheric approach contributes to highlighting the web of living things of which we are a part. It can be rediscovered and extended, for instance by critically updating the contribution of human ecology made by Chicago sociologists in the 1920s15,16, or by formulating an ambitious “social ecology” such as proposed by the philosopher and activist Murray Bookchin17,18. Many other ways are possible. The emergent aspirations of urban populations to strengthen relationships with the other forms of life, through knowledge and participatory experiences, is part of a broader and more complex dynamic. On the scale of Berlin, the once-distended urban mosaic is becoming denser, neighbourhoods are changing.

Raumlabor’s Floating University is a hybrid event. It is an urban installation and a participatory performance which sustains a temporary locus for a network of artists, activists and students. However, the whole project stays within the established limits of a legal artistic performance–an experience made available to anyone who wants to set foot in it. The scope of the initiative on “ecological literacy” is therefore probably not to commensurate with the announced utopian project of “regeneration”. For example, it has nothing in common with the declared ambition, also partly achieved, of the European University–a public institution that aims to extend the social reach of qualifying knowledge. This is also the reason why, since 2019, the collective has been forbidden to use the title “university”: “the space is no longer called The Floating University Berlin, following the Berliner Hochschulgesetz which states that only proper universities may use the word. Currently we go under Floating University until we find a new name.” It’s not so easy to play with pedagogy, especially when it concerns our collective and democratic institutions at the level of a region, a state, a country (the familiar name “FU” is strongly associated with the Freie Universität in Berlin). And this, even as one shows the practical, rhetorical and aesthetic skills of a collective as renowned as Raumlabor.

Ideals of artists and hippies taken up by the powerful firms that emerged from the start-up movement19; new forms of individualism that force people to “be themselves”20 and whose identity practices, such as veganism, are now indistinguishable; the widespread greenwashing that is symptomatic of a change in consumer values that can be satisfied by a modification only slightly thicker than the product label; the increase in the market share of electric cars, which seems to push the dramatic consequences of our consumerist excesses to other spaces and times… This open-ended list points to a number of contradictions that we must collectively address. In the meantime, greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere continue to rise daily. Other atmospheric emanations, those of mass consumption and the entertainment industry (abusively called cultural), continue to weigh heavily on our consciences. Restive or not, we remain strange citizen-consumers of goods, services, and cultural products. For how much longer will we accept this desolate passivity? When will we dare to give the initiatives of education for “regeneration” the central role that should be theirs, instead of confining it to interstices explored only by insiders?

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Maxime Le Calvé acknowledges the support of the Cluster of Excellence »Matters of Activity. Image Space Material« funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) under Germany’s Excellence Strategy – EXC 2025 – 390648296.

Maxime Le Calvé is a postdoctoral research associate at the Cluster of Excellence “Matters of Activities”. In his latest project he is exploring haptic creativities in image-guided neurosurgery and virtual reality design. As a visual ethnographer, he is making use of drawing as an investigative device, and he is blogging about his fieldwork using digital sketches. He was trained in general ethnology in Paris Nanterre and holds a PhD in social anthropology and in theatre studies from EHESS Paris and FU Berlin. Having done fieldwork in various art-related contexts, Maxime has co-edited a volume on the phenomenon of atmospheres and on the ethnographical practices applied to the study of affective phenomena. He is currently teaching multimodal ethnography at the IfEE (Humboldt University in Berlin) and writing-as-inquiry within the Open Design Master (Humboldt University/ University of Buenos Aires). He is also co-curating the ongoing virtual/physical exhibition Field/Works in Lisbon (ANTART/EASA/FBAUL).

Olivier Gaudin holds a PhD in Philosophy of Social Sciences from the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris. He is an associate Professor at the School of Nature and Landscape (INSA Centre Val de Loire, Blois, France) and researcher at the CITERES research unit (University of Tours). He also teaches at the School of Architecture of Paris-Est (École d’architecture de la ville et des territoires). His work connects pragmatist philosophy and urban studies, with a focus on human ecology in the social sciences and the cultural history of inhabited places. He has published short essays and articles on these issues, and together with Alexis Cukier, edited Les sens du social, philosophie et sociologie (PUR, 2017). He is the editorial manager of Les Cahiers de l’École de Blois, editor at Marnes, documents d’architecture, and member of the editorial staff of the online and open access journals Métropolitiques and Pragmata.

Maxime Le Calve

Olivier Gaudin

Les Cahiers de l’École de Blois




Volume 4, no. 1 Spring 2021