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The Energy Walk: Experimenting with Aesthetic Methods in STS? By Line Marie Thorsen

Line Marie Thorsen is describing an artistic intervention used as an ethnographic method in the research project Alien Energy. She explains how the use of an aesthetic method is appropriated to convey to the public the potential of wave and tide energy sources.

The project is diverse, being an STS research project with an artistic intervention as experimental factor.

Thorsen’s main argument is: “that the walk manoeuvres a layered landscape of energetic and infrastructural visibility and invisibility, hereby sensitizing the participant to the manifold energy forms constantly present in our daily lives” (LMT pp.1). Thorsen’s description of the artistic intervention, being the audio guided walk, is thorough and precise, enabling the reader to understand what kind of experience the walk offers. The main objective of the article is to elaborate on the usefulness of aesthetic methods in STS research. To do so Thorsen analyses the aesthetic quality of The Energy Walk, based on the aesthetic philosophy of John Dewey and his understanding of an “aesthetic experience”, as well as referring to the artwork of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller as initial inspiration for the development of The Energy Walk.

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She offers quotes form the audio guide as well as from participating researchers, fx. Susan Leigh Star.

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The concluding part of the article is somewhat weary. In stead of drawing a clear conclusion, Thorsen makes a point out of saying that the experimental nature of appropriating aesthetic experience into an STS research project, is a new and unexplored merge of academic fields. Hence, its difficult to pinpoint what is at stake.

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