On Urban Trajectology. Algorithmic Mobilities and Atmocultural Navigation (with Andrea Pavoni)

(Submitted to Distinktion. Journal of Social Theory)


In this piece, we introduce the notion of ‘atmoculture’ as a conceptual tool to analyse the new forms of mobility supported and enacted by digital algorithms. In historical perspective, we analyse how modernity has created a movement-space where the problem of finding one’s way through an increasingly ‘displaced’ urban space first popped up, with noticeable psycho-social consequences. Reconstructing the new digital media as a continuation of this spatial imagination, we seek to zoom in onto the forms of mobility facilitated by digital algorithms. Urban digital navigation, we suggest, proceeds in parallel with a reorientation of the urban experience towards atmospheric considerations, maximising safety and pleasurableness in the user’s encounters with the environment. In this context, atmoculture appears a spatial-aesthetic, psycho-cultural, and bio-technological milieu that prepares space for convenient navigation. We discuss a number of consequences: first the disburdening effect, whereby subjects delegate to a number of perceptions and decisions to algorithms, expropriating the natural problem-solving aspect of subjectivity; second, the invisible transformations of urban space due to the biases and skews that are built in algorithms themselves; third, the tensional, even contradictory outcomes of atmocultural expectations, whereby the goal of a secure and pleasant environmental interaction is undone by the very quantity of information provided and the level of alertness required from the user.



Spatial perception; Urban mobility; New media; Hodology; Urban Navigation; Urban atmospheres; Atmoculture

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Hannah Arendt

Cannot keep to myself the joy of discovering this document :


Hannah Arendt Zur Person – Full Interview with English subtitles

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Review of Farzaneh Haghighi “Is the Tehran Bazaar Dead? Foucault, politics, and architecture”


Brighenti 2020 review Haghighi

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Vertical Vision and Atmocultural Navigation. Notes on emerging Urban Scopic Regimes (with Andrea Pavoni)

Still from Harun Farocki : Computer Animation Rules, Lecture at IKKM, 25 June 2014, available at https://vimeo.com/100092938

Still from Harun Farocki : Computer Animation Rules, Lecture at IKKM, 25 June 2014, available at https://vimeo.com/100092938

Forthcoming in Visual Studies

Abstract. This paper analyses vertical vision by tracing its possible genealogy and exploring the forms it takes in the contemporary city. In the first section, vertical vision is situated in the context of its cosmographic tenets. In the second section, the critique of verticality is complemented by a topological approach where vertical vision can be seen folding into a novel visual grammar. The lineaments of this grammar can be retrieved by attending specifically to algorithms and their role in contemporary urban perception, which we discuss in the third section. The fourth section implements the suggestions of two artists: Harun Farocki’s notion of navigation, and Hito Steyerl’s notion of bubble vision. Exposing the central role played by digital platforms in ushering in this novel paradigm, bubble vision can be reconstructed as the logical end-point of classical vertical vision. This comes in conjunction with the rise of peculiar visual-cultural configuration, which could be called ‘atmoculture’. Section five submits that atmoculture represents the cultural milieu of bubble vision. In conclusion, the paper invites visual scholars interested in the study of verticality to recognise bubble vision, together with its atmocultural background, as a new expression, and a reconfiguration, of vertical vision: similarly centred and disembodied, exhilarating, and dangerously de-responsibilising.



Posted in atmoculture, urban, visibility, visual | Comments closed

Urban Animals – Shifting Ecologies of Proximities : Special Issue Completed!

Picture Courtesy of Andrea Pavoni ©

Picture Courtesy of Andrea Pavoni ©

Andrea’s and  my introduction ‘Situating urban animals – a theoretical framework’ has now been published: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21582041.2020.1788131

The Special Issue ‘Urban Animals – Shifting Ecologies of Proximities’ is now complete! Bundled here.


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Animated Lands. Studies in Territoriology

Animated Lands now announced as forthcoming at University of Nebraska Press:

+ info | https://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/university-of-nebraska-press/9781496213396/


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Teoria Sociale. Un percorso introduttivo



cover-estesa qui (pdf)

Posted in intensiology, measure, media, multiplicities, publicness, territoriology, Uncategorized, urban, visibility | Comments closed

Urban Phases: Crystallisation



Paper at TCS Philosophy & Literature Conference 2019, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Austria, May 29th – June 2nd, 2019

Now published in City, Culture and Society



An analysis of the city through its crystallising processes is here proposed. Because crystallisation involves phase transition, a review of the latter, as well of the notion of phase in its relation to order, is first submitted. Then the question is posed: Can we suggest that cities have phases? What would it imply to study cities as “phased beings”, or phased phenomena? Which characteristics of crystalline phases can prove most relevant for cities? The paper explores crystallisation as a lens for understanding spatial order, temporality, individuality and perception in the course, and in the context, of the urban process and urban life.



Urban phases; Urban crystallisation; Crystal growth; Crystalline life; Crystallised cities; Urban perception;  Urban individuality



 Conference website

Conference programme


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Robert Smithson, Geophilosopher



 PDF Version

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The Visibility of Perception. On the Experience of Urban Environments









A lecture and seminar at https://www.ucis.pitt.edu/global/home

Lecture : https://www.ucis.pitt.edu/global/visibility-perception-experience-urban-environments

Seminar : https://www.ucis.pitt.edu/global/faculty-workshop-andrea-mubi-brighenti

Posted in urban, urban phases, visual | Comments closed

Comparing what? Conceptualizing comparison in ethnographic research

OUT NOW – Special Issue of Etnografia e Ricerca Qualitativa XII: 2

  • Comparing what? Conceptualizing comparison in ethnographic research  – Edited by Andrea Mubi Brighenti, Nicholas DeMaria Harney


Introduction (pdf)



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On my way towards The Tag Conference

Will be my pleasure to join Javier Abarca and the other fellows at http://thetagconference.com/


Programme here

Posted in environment, milieu, urban, visibility, visual, walls | Comments closed

Face & The City


Now Out in Body & Society

Abstract. This piece sets out an exploration of the relations between the city, the body, and the face, seeking to understand in particular how the city and the face could be articulated with reference to an image of the body. It is suggested that the face and the city entertain a kind of privileged affinity. Just as the face unsettles the head and the bodily system to which it belongs, projecting the latter into an intersubjective social system of interaction and signification, so the city unsettles the land where it is located, projecting it into long-distance connections with similar entities scattered across the continent, and beyond. The piece evolves into the twin exploration of, on the one hand, “the city of the face” and, on the other, “the face of the city”. In the first half of the essay, the city is conceptualised as politeía, or polity, whereas in the second half it is characterised through its possible encounter with the experience of “facing”. The piece stresses the animistic attitude and the qualitatively distinct moments generated by the animistic operation as important to develop the city-face notion.

Keywords: face; head; city; landscape; identity; territoriology; Deleuze



Posted in sensorial, surface / depth, urban | Comments closed

Special issue: Theorising measures, rankings and metrics


Now out at: https://journals.sagepub.com/toc/ssic/58/2

Featuring :

Measurements and their limits – Editorial
David Jaclin, Peter Wagner

Umwelt-measures. On extensive and intensive measures: Introduction to the special issue ‘Theorising measures, rankings and metrics’
Andrea Mubi Brighenti

Ethical dimensions of quantification
Wendy Espeland, Vincent Yung

Commensuration, compromises and critical capacities: Wage determination in collective firms
Nina Pohler

Evaluations as value-measurement links: Exploring metrics and meanings in science
Felicitas Hesselmann, Cornelia Schendzielorz

The role of measurement in theorising about the world
Nicole Holzhauser, Frank Eggert

When reactivity fails: The limited effects of hospital rankings
Christopher Dorn

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Le aree alpine interne come interstizi urbani: appunti da una ricerca in corso

Sagron Mis – Source: https://travel.sygic.com/it/poi/sagron-mis-region:21656

Sagron Mis – Source: https://travel.sygic.com/it/poi/sagron-mis-region:21656

con Cristina Mattiucci

Now Published in Tracce Urbanehttps://ojs.uniroma1.it/index.php/TU/article/view/14556


ITA: A partire da un focus sulle aree interne dell’Euregio (regione transfrontaliera
Tirolo, Alto Adige e Trentino), in questo articolo proponiamo un’interpretazione
dell’abitare i territori montani marginali come “interstizi”. Descriviamo
anzitutto alcuni processi socio-spaziali osservati in situ, presentando alcune
realtà sociali complesse, i cui modelli abitativi, scelte insediative e forme
dell’abitare si confrontano dinamicamente con fenomeni multi-scalari. La
“condizione interstiziale” dell’abitare emerge in particolare attraverso un
processo di decostruzione dell’immagine ufficiale del territorio, analizzando
le frizioni che animano tale condizione nella tensione tra l’assetto istituzionale
regionale e locale da un lato, e le pratiche di vita dall’altro.

ENG: Starting from a focus on the inner areas of the Euregio (cross-border region
encompassing Tyrol, Alto Adige and Trentino), in this paper we propose an
interpretation of dwelling in marginal mountain territories as ‘interstitial’
dwelling. First, we describe some socio-spatial processes observed in situ.
These are complex social worlds, where housing models, settlement choices
and forms of living dynamically interact with multi-scalar phenomena. The
‘interstitial condition’ of dwelling emerges, in particular, by deconstructing
the official image of the territory. Analysing the frictions that animate the
interstitial condition sheds some light upon the tension between regional and
local institutions and life practices.

pdf here : brighenti-mattiucci-2019-aree-interne

Posted in Alps, territories, territoriology | Comments closed

Where do we come from, where do we go – New Playlist

Posted in environment, intensiology | Comments closed

Umwelt-measures. On extensive and intensive measures

Introduction to the special issue ‘Theorising measures, rankings and metrics’


Now published: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0539018419858816

The whole Special Issue is due to appear soon…

Posted in intensiology, measure | Comments closed

Lund Creativity Conference 2019

A couple of more pictures fom my Keynote Address…



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Contribution to an intensiology of the public domain

A Keynote Address at the Urban Creativity Conference, Museum of Artistic Process and Public Art, Lund, Sweden.

May 17, 2019, 3pm


This talk interrogates the nature of the urban public domain by specifically attending the intensities and the phases it generates. A comprehensive view on the phenomenon of publicness, it is suggested, is required to attend its ecological facet – more precisely, as it will be seen, its multi-layered ecology – but also to explain its intrinsic vital qualities. The latter hints to the phenomenon of intensity. After reviewing the main features of publicness (“what is specifically public in public space?”), a broader picture of the public domain can be sketched that includes the processes of mediation. But whereas mediation suggests a ‘continuist’ take, a discontinuities can likewise be detected in the public domain. Coining from physics, the latter could as well be called ‘phase transitions’. How are phase transitions correlated to the intensive moments of publicness? This is the pivotal question for discussion.

+ info | https://urbancreativitylund.tumblr.com

picture courtesy © Mattias Kärrholm

picture courtesy © Mattias Kärrholm

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Umwelt: esplorare il mondo ambiente


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New Playlist – Dakar to Djibouti

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The Wanderer

“He who has attained to only some degree of freedom of mind cannot feel other than a wanderer on the earth – though not as a traveller to a final destination: for this destination does not exist. But he will watch and observe and keep his eyes open to see what is really going on in the world; for this reason he may not let his heart adhere too firmly to any individual thing; within him too there must be something wandering that takes pleasure in change and transience. Such a man will, to be sure, experience bad nights, when he is tired and finds the gate of the town that should offer him rest closed against him; perhaps in addition the desert will, as in the Orient, reach right up to the gate, beasts of prey howl now farther off, now closer to, a strong wind arise, robbers depart with his beasts of burden. Then dreadful night may sink down upon the desert like a second desert, and his heart grow weary of wandering. When the morning sun then rises, burning like a god of wrath, and the gate of the town opens to him, perhaps he will behold in the faces of those who dwell there even more desert, dirt, deception, insecurity than lie outside the gate – and the day will be almost worse than the night. Thus it may be that the wanderer shall fare; but then, as recompense, there will come the joyful mornings of other days and climes, when he shall see, even before the light has broken, the Muses come dancing by him in the mist of the mountains, when afterwards, if he relaxes quietly beneath the trees in the equanimity of his soul at morning, good and bright things will be thrown down to him from their tops and leafy hiding-places, the gifts of all those free spirits who are at home in mountain, wood and solitude and who, like him, are, in their now joyful, now thoughtful way, wanderers and philosophers. Born out of the mysteries of dawn, they ponder on how, between the tenth and the twelfth stroke of the clock, the day could present a face so pure, so light-filled, so cheerful and transfigured: – they seek the philosophy of the morning.”

Nietzsche, Human, All too Human (I, §638)

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Astral Body


Posted in Alps, crystallisations | Comments closed

Melencolia IX


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Transizioni Territori no.5 – Cineforum


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