The "Sensitive Observation Seminar Series" organized by Ila Bêka, Louise Lemoine and Gili Merin within their Diploma unit at the AA School of Architecture in London 2020/2021, will host during the year a series of guests from different fields - architects, filmmakers, photographers, artists, philosophers, writers, anthropologists and other outsiders of "categories" - who will discuss their own practice, research and working methodology.

In close relation to the unit's studio work and production of films, the seminar will attempt to define what sensitive observation means in order to enlighten the social, political and poetical importance of such practices within architectural education and our profession at large.


In perfect line with the seminar's intention to define what can be sensitive observation in the urban, Thomas Daniell presents a historical overview of the genealogy of Japanese street observers from the 1920s "Modernology" of architect Wajirō Kon, to the 1970s "Thomasson" objects of artist Genpei Akasegawa, the 1980s "Street Observation" of the ROJO group, and the 1990s "Pet Architecture" of Atelier Bow-Wow.

Thomas Daniell is Professor of Architectural History, Theory and Criticism at Kyoto University Japan. A frequent contributor to AA Files, his most recent book is An Anatomy of Influence (AA Publications, 2018).

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The author of "Life of Plants," "Metamorphosis" and "Sensible Life" questions space and perception: is space the object of our perception or matter that perceives in itself?

"We usually imagine space as the object of perception: extended and inanimate matter that the five senses allow us to transform into experience. Instead, I would like to try to demonstrate that what we call space is an immense sensorium that does not wait for our senses to open up to transform the world into experience. The whole space feels and all that it feels lives spatially".

Emanuele Coccia is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and formerly taught in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, Columbia University in New York, and the Universities of Buenos Aires, Dusseldorf, Tokyo and Weimar.

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Cinema was born at the turn of the 20th century, as did the modern metropolis. Since then, it has been a privileged observer of the urban phenomenon. In this lecture, Camille Bui intends to show how urban documentary filmmaking evolved from a plastic translation of the rhythm of big cities by the avant-garde in the 1920s, to the lived encounter with city dwellers and the listening of their voices by direct cinema filmmakers since the 1960s and until today.

Camille Bui is Associate Professor in Film Studies at University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. In 2018, she published the book: Cinepractices of the City. Documentary and Urbanity after Chronicle of a Summer (Presses Universitaires de Provence).

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Major filmmaker of our times, Wang Bing is internationally acclaimed for his documentaries that show the downsides and indirect repercussions of the rapid and profound changes in contemporary Chinese society.

Through excerpts of some of his most well-known films ("West of the tracks", "The Three Sisters", "The Ditch" and "Man with No Name"), Wang Bing will look back on 20 years of intense and radical artistic commitment, discussing his working methodology and specific understanding of documentary filmmaking.

Through patient attention and subtle listening to the slightest gesture and inflection of body language, Wang Bing's cinema plunges us as close as possible in the daily intimacy of anonymous people, in fragile and precarious situations, usually invisible and left out of the scope of official representation.

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