Understanding Atmospheres. Culture, materiality and the texture of the in-bweteen

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesSeminar


The concept “atmosphere” and equivalents such as ambience and aura, have increasingly become objects of study in a range of disciplines from architecture and aesthetics to anthropology and archaeology. Located at the intersection of things and people, atmospheres may be defined as a potential, which has to emerge or to be made effective at the conceptual as well as the sensuous
level. Someone has to experience an atmosphere for it to exist. An atmosphere is
neither an object, nor a subject; neither passive nor neutral, but rather may act as silent interventions into behavioural and experiential practices and interpretations. It is a total phenomenon, largely non-representational and hence difficult to put into words. Nevertheless, atmospheres are manifested in human bodies and may be experienced as emotions, flushes, heartbeats, tears and smiles, which are all formal evidence of a relationship between subjects and their environment. The question, in turn, is thus how we can study atmospheres, both as experience and analytical tool? This two-day conference welcomes papers that explore the methodological and analytical dimensions of atmosphere for example in ethnographic or geographical fieldwork, in museological studies, or in the study of archaeological remains, in response to one or more of the following questions: What kind of concept is atmosphere, and what does it help us understand? How do we recognize atmospheres, where do we locate them and what sets them apart from other qualitative experiences of the environment? What components come into effect in the experience of an atmosphere? What role do cultural norms and expectations play in the orchestration of such atmospheres? What is the quality of the relational configurations, the toning of places, and the tuning of people, in recognitions of atmospheres? How are
physical manifestations in bodies and spaces labelled, explained or methodologically explored?
Period16 Mar 201217 Mar 2012
Event typeConference
OrganiserMikkel Bille, Tim Flohr Sørensen, Peter Bjerregaard & Anne Line Dalsgaard
LocationAarhus, Denmark