Proximate cosmologies

A review of Ada Smailbegović’s ‘Poetics of Liveliness’

Photo by Kaitlin Moore.

At the beginning of chapter 6 of Poetics of Liveliness, titled “Clouds,” author Ada Smailbegović engages in an “experiment of description” aimed at enacting the “vaporous dynamics” of the Blur Building, a temporary media installation that drew up the waters of Lake Neuchâtel to spray into being an architectural structure composed entirely of water vapor and mist.[1] Smailbegović’s experiment is respiratory, a tidal form of positive feedback intensified through a litany of movements, forms, and visuals that partake of the hazy encumbrances and billows of a planetary atmosphere, a “dynamic site of gradual transformation” (198) that affectively embraces the instability and transience of cloud: “The vapor begins rising again from the left corner of the frame, filling and filling the space until no discernment is possible between the shape of the cloud and the sky” (228).

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