The Amphibian Relations
Between Art, Architecture and Philosophy

Per Nilsson

Per Nilsson

The Amphibian Relations Between Art, Architecture and Philosophy

Public Lecture
Tuesday, 16  April 2013


The fifth lecture in the Spring Public lecture series 2013 "Making Architecture Politically", will be addressed by Umeå based educator, researcher and philosopher Per Nillson. The issues Per Nilsson will address (see below) are part of the research the faculty of architecture has initiated under the heading: Relational Architecture. As Professor Per Nillson is heading and developing research under the title: Resurrecting Chora. Aesthetics and Sustainability in Architecture.

The livestream of the lecture by Per Nilsson

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The Amphibian Relations

The thesis Per Nilsson will address in the public lecture - among other things -  is that the story told by St. Teresa, portrayed by the sculpture of Gian Lorenzo Bernini's "The Ecstacy of St. Teresa" (1647 - 52), is an example of an aesthetic mediation of experiencing intensity brought about by a force she claims to be divine and that Nilsson will call immediate, a force we know nothing about except in actual experience of which every depiction is a mediation.

Per Nilsson says: "However, the experience is itself an ice flake, which is related to the other ice flakes but not as a primary ice flake. The experience of St. Teresa seem to be an experience of an amphibian body bordering on immediacy that can be compared with a plane of consistency of a body without organs, completely filled with desired sweet pain. But space is involved first in the experiencing spatium, then through mediation from spatium to littoral landscapes. Such mediations are aesthetical, which opens up aesthetic qualitative spaces I call littoral landscapes. These littoral landscapes might later, violently, be epistemologically reduced and quantified, turned into geometrical abstract space as quantitative extension".

It is Nilsson's thesis - and I quote - "...that space as geometrical extension comes about through an epistemological reduction in order to enable distribution of objects within a space/time continuum. Such abstract conceptualisation of space lies behind the aesthetic conception of continuity as it is brought forward by Rem Koolhaas in his Junkspace. This is a spatial equivalent to an epistemological reduction through which we objectify others and ourselves. The epistemological reduction of space is a reduction of littoral landscapes of aesthetics, a reduction that threatens to destroy qualitative aesthetic spaces, i.e. littoral landscapes".


Per Nilsson

Per Nilsson is associate professor and assistant dean of the department of Art at the university of Umeå, Sweden. Per Nilsson became PhD in Philosophy 2001 at the department of Philosophy at Umeå University. The same year he started working as a philosopher at Umeå Academy of Fine Arts, Umeå University. Between 2003 -2007 he was project leader for the artistic research project Research Processes in Fine arts, a project he developed together with the Artist and Professor in Fine Arts Elin Wikström, financed by the Swedish Research Counsel. In 2009 he published his book The Amphibian Stand: A Philosophical Essay Concering Research Processes in Fine Art (Umeå: h:ström Text-Kultur, 2009). Since 2007 he is assistant dean at The Academy of Fine Arts, Umeå University, and since 2010 he is Senior Lecturer at The Academy of Fine Arts as well as at Umeå School of Architecture, both at Umeå University. In 2010 he became Associate Professor in Philosophy focusing on the Philosophies of Art. Since 2012 he is project leader for the project Amphibian Decreations in Choreography and Philosophy, a project he develops together with the Choreographer Björns Säfsten and the dancers Anja Arquist and Sophie Augot, which is financed by the Swedish Research Counsel.

Per Nilsson research is  part of the Umeå School of Architecture research project Relational Architecture. In his part of the Relational Architecture research project Per Nilsson and his researchers will, from a philosophical/artistic perspective, investigate what it means to view architecture as a specific form of fine art as well as suggest sufficient concepts that can provide points of departures for discussions, dialogue and analyses concerning such a view. They will thereby argue for the critical potential of architecture concerning contemporary culture and society. Hence they will look upon architecture as a special form of fine art in contemporary terms, special in the sense that architecture always also is connected to engineering i. e. technology, and will thereby suggest its critical discourses and paroles.

The top image depicts a part of The Exctasy of Saint Teresa (1647 - 1652), in Italian 'L'Estasi di Santa Teresa or Santa Teresa in estasi' is the central sculptural group in white marble set in an elevated aedicule in the Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome. It was designed and completed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the leading sculptor of his day, who also designed the setting of the Chapel in marble, stucco and paint. It is generally considered to be one of the sculptural masterpieces of the High Roman Baroque. It pictures Teresa of Ávila.