Ecological Aesthetics

Ecological Aesthetics: artful tactics for humans, nature, and politics is a plea for us to continuously think- and act-with the world and its inhabitants, both human and nonhuman; to orient ourselves in ways that we might find and express what our environments, and what they are made of, want; and then to decisively help and continue those thoughts, wants, and actions toward novel aims and adventures.

With this poetic and scholarly collection of stories about art, artists, and their materials, Nathaniel Stern argues that ecology, aesthetics, and ethics are inherently entwined, and together act as the cornerstone for all contemporary arts practices. An ecological approach, says Stern, takes account of agents, processes, thoughts, and relations. Humans, matter, concepts, things, not-yet-things, politics, economics, and industry are all actively shaped in, and as, their interrelation. And aesthetics are a style of, and orientation toward, thought—and thus action.

Download the Ecological Aesthetics introduction (20 page PDF, 1MB).


Stern has also made a free, Creative Commons-licensed recording of the introduction to the book for streaming or download. It is a preview, released mid-April 2018 and available now. This audiobook version is read by the author, with background music by João Orecchia. Stream via Soundcloud above, or, for listening with the player of your choice:

Download the MP3 (1 hour).

Including dozens of color images, the print book narrativizes artists and artworks—ranging from print to installation, bio art to community activism—contextualizing and amplifying our experiences and practices of complex systems and forces, our experiences and practices of thought. Stern, an artist himself, writes with an eco-aesthetic that continually unfurls artful tactics that can also be used in everyday existence.

Ecological Aesthetics shows a deepening awareness of the connectivities, relations, events, and the unfolding of reality at different registers and scales. Its impact lies in its consolidation of art communities, putting weight on the significance of local interventions and aesthetic engagement. . . . It reads like a gentle manifesto.
– Amanda Boetzkes, author of The Ethics of Earth Art and Contemporary Art and the Drive to Waste

Title: Ecological Aesthetics: artful tactics for humans, nature, and politics
Author: Nathaniel Stern
Publisher: Dartmouth College Press at the University Press of New England
Date of Publication: July 2018
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1512602914
ISBN-13: 978-1512602913