The Visual Culture Research Unit imparts extensive theoretical and methodological competencies at the intersection of contemporary art, architecture and theory. At the centre of our work is an in-depth exploration of the variety of forms and practices through which culture is produced, negotiated and put to use along historical, political, social and economic processes. Our examination of the different manifestations of these processes spans from the analysis of the political dimension of spatial production and pictorial representation through to the investigation of visual constructions of social phenomena. The lived and shared practice of culture forms the starting point of these explorations.
With its perspective based on real everyday experiences, the Visual Culture Research Unit opens up a repertoire of approaches, methods and tools to address the major challenges of the present in their historical contingency and malleability - increasing influence of digital technologies, different forms of global migration, growing social and economic inequity, increasing informalisation and precarisation of work, neo-liberalisation of the city and its institutions, new modes of political and social governance, and the global impact of environmental degradation and climate change. In all these areas, we provide critical knowledge that brings together artistic, architectural and planning considerations with a range of historical, theoretical, experimental and interpretive approaches in research and literature.
In addition to research-led teaching in the field of architecture, our activities focus on the design and implementation of long-term interdisciplinary research projects in which we collaborate with a global network of actors. Key topics of these projects include:
- Participation, diversity and social justice in the networks of global knowledge production
- Involvement of informal urbanity in the new economic world order
- Spaces of emerging data publics and platform industries
- Political ecology, environmental activism and the production of nature
- Discursive-critical spaces for curatorial action
- Urban capital, building speculation and the architecture of finance
- Urban transformation and the politics of territorial development
- Loss of order, structural changes and the crisis of scale in the 21st century
As part of these projects, the Visual Culture Research Unit contributes to the public discourse on the built environment, helps to create new fields of architectural practice, and provides important support to doctoral candidates and post-doc researchers in the development of their academic and artistic careers.