For the past year I (alongside Ben Mendelsohn, and with the support of Nicole Starosielski) have been organizing a series on “Infrastructure Aesthetics” to explore representations of infrastructure in the workings of modern life. This has taken the form of artist talks, discussions, and film screenings. While I’m most looking forward to the events we are planning for next year, which I hope will include some more of my colleagues, I wanted to share the last event of this term as an introduction. This event, “Corporate Imaginaries,” was an experimental screening curated primarily from short-form advertisements, manifestos, and branding videos scattered across the web:
Infrastructure Aesthetics III: Corporate Imaginaries is a festival of triumphalist, mundane, and outright campy promotional videos about supply chains, ports, energy, and transport. Drawn from the semi-public archive of web videos, we approach these texts as the monuments of corporate image making—from grandiose visions of the future to the technical illustrations of internal negotiation. These videos embody the ideals, fantasies, and motivating logics driving territorial expansion and integration. They celebrate the process of planetary transformation under the guise of responsible corporate stewardship, optimization, and efficiency. They enshrine statements of power, promise, and potentiality even as they reveal the crumbling edifices of universality. The program for “Corporate Imaginaries” approaches representations of infrastructure in the context of overarching narratives of progress, modernity, and the global sublime to consider how these well-worn accounts are being rewritten within the emergent language of sustainability, security, and control.
The full program for the event is available on the Infrastructure Aesthetics website.